Previously known as Libdemchild

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Thank you Paddy for inspiring me at age 11

Paddy Ashdown inspired my foray into politics. I first met Paddy when I was 11 years old. I was awestruck as a timid little girl but I wanted to say hello to him at the 2010 party conference because I had been watching his speeches and debates on YouTube. I was enthralled by him. The idea of being involved in politics was beyond intimidating to me at that age. 

I approached Paddy who was immediately warm and listened to what I had to say. I told him how excited I was to be a Lib Dem. He listened to me with a respect not normally given to kids and certainly not in politics. What he said has always stuck with me. 

I told Paddy that he was one of my political heroes. His response was to encourage me and then to tell me that he was no hero but was merely a 'pygmy hero'. He said that he was only human. He told me that he himself did not have heroes and but admired 'pygmy' figures. 

I did not fully understand what Paddy meant at the time but have come to understand it in the intervening 8 years. What stayed with me was his humility and his support. 

To have a political giant speak to me and tell me that he was excited to see a young girl involved in politics was the reassurance that I needed at that time. Hearing about his death I feel sad but honoured to be able to carry such personal words of encouragement from the political giant that Paddy was. His words shaped my approach to being a young girl in a frighteningly male-dominated environment. Paddy was no pygmy, despite his own words.  

I last saw Paddy speak in 2016 at an anti-EU Lib Dem event where he spoke of the detriment that Brexit would bring to my generation and future generations. It was at this event, with other past Lib Dem leaders, that I felt truly proud of the party and their consideration of young people at a time when my generation felt voiceless. 

RIP Paddy you will be greatly missed and I wish that I could personally thank you for being one of the first political figures that I saw take an interest in me and other young people being involved in politics. 
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