Nationwide confirm it is policy not to accept cheques unless the name is an exact match to the account, because they have no mechanism for telling the clearing office it's OK. Although it's not actually anywhere in their terms and conditions. They accept this is inconvenient and will pass on my comments and perhaps such a mechanism may eventually exist, but I'm not holding out. The nice chap I spoke to on the phone was pretty apologetic about it and actually volunteered to pass it on and try get it fixed, so brownie points to him if not to Nationwide in general.
Double bonus points to them for understanding when I wanted them to confirm *their* identity too given they'd called me, and reading out part of my original secure mail to them in order to do so, since they apparently couldn't read out any of my details because I hadn't confirmed I was me.
HSBC confirm it's not normally possible, but *may* be possible at the discretion of a particular branch. And that if a branch won't help they suggest I get the sender to issue a new cheque.
New cheques it is then I guess. *sigh*