Tales from Wales – ‘Don’t forget the old people and don’t underestimate the young people…’ (Narberth III)

Two women practising kendo made us realise we were in the right place...

So, having arrived safely, and identified the local goat herders were next door, we found the room we were training the Election Planning Workshop in and began to set up all the kit.

We arranged the desks and put out the handouts that people needed for the training, until from the window came, ‘oh look,’ as one of the training team spotted something.

The note of fascination was that two women were conducting slow motion kendo in the garden behind the building we were training in, it was fascinating and strangely hypnotic, ‘we’re definitely in the right place then,’ I said.

So, all the constituencies started arriving and the training began.  Hilary Stephenson was leading the training and began to ask people what the issues were in their area, and how they would campaign on them.

I have a strong memory of ‘a new bridge for Fishguard’ being a very hot topic, but in true training style Hilary made sure that she engaged all the audience by going round and asking them what they thought.

An elderly gentleman, sitting in the front row, sagely looked up from leaning on his walking stick, and said;

‘Don’t forget the old people and don’t underestimate the young people!’

Now Hilary is not often lost for words but thanked the gentleman and moved on to the next person.  But, as the day progressed it seemed clear this was the message that the old gentleman wanted us to remember.  He must have said it, and only that, a dozen times between the start of the day and the closing statements, and each time the different trainers were accosted with the refrain they just moved on, fully aware that this was a Liberal Democrat event!

 As Hilary and I were winding up the day once again the old chap said;

 ‘Don’t forget the old people and don’t underestimate the young people!’

Without a moment’s pause Hilary said in a very even tone;

‘If there is one thing that we will all go home remembering today it will be not to forget the old people and we definitely won’t be underestimating the young people! But please feel free to put it on the feedback form.’

She was right, we all still remember this message, and if nothing else the man reminded us the importance of repeating messages constantly when campaigning.

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  1. This day is etched on my memory and I will never forget the old people or underestimate the young people.


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