When John Coles, the former chairman of the British Property Federation (BPF), was awarded a lifetime membership for his services to the trade body at the National Residential Investment Conference on 6 February, his acceptance speech contained an unusual thank you to man’s best friend.

Labrador fletcher

Coles praised his trusty labrador for his loyalty during his term as chair at the BPF and thanked him for the commitment he had shown.

But the labrador in question wasn’t a wet-nosed, four-legged pooch. It was the BPF’s director of policy (real estate) Ian Fletcher.

“Ian Fletcher is the best labrador anyone could wish for,” said Coles, eliciting shocked titters from the audience. “I don’t know what I would have done without his hard work for the property sector.”

To his credit, Fletcher took it with good grace. Asked how he felt about being singled out for such praise, he quipped: “What can I say? I’m a sucker for having my ears tickled.” Oo-er!