You don’t often see politicians redirecting their gaze at election time. However, the Aberystwyth University Liberal Democrats spent the early days of May raising money and awareness for a disease that is renowned for afflicting young people, many of which are students.
What the AULD had planned was to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre (MSRC) through cross-party football, selling cakes on an industrial scale and using social media to promote their cause. It’s fair to say, we could not have expected such a successful campaign, let alone such a whirlwind of support from students and University staff.
It all started when Ollie Dunckley, the AULD Campaigns Officer was stuck in traffic between Newmarket and Cambridge.
“Alastair Hignell, a former England Rugby player came on the radio – as a Rugby fanatic my ears pricked up immediately! What I heard next was a moving and inspiring testimony of how Multiple Sclerosis affected one man’s life. I had heard of MS, but I had never really researched it. As soon as I got home I looked up Higgy’s Heroes and the MSRC. Instantly, I was determined to do something for this great cause.”
The Aber Uni Lib Dems Campaigns Officers set out on a mission. They would lobby the local party, Mark Williams MP, councillors, students, and members of the local community in aid of this fantastic cause. Cakes were flying out of the Student Guild like Focus from a RISO – people just kept giving and giving, thought it was not quite like a Federal Conference Rally.
Then the dreaded football tournament arrived. Now, it is well known that politicians are not great sportsman, particularly Liberal Democrats. In fact, many a muscle was torn on that fateful day in Aberystwyth. AULD fielded Clegg, Cable, Ashdown, Paddick and of course Öpik. As the LDs approached the field, they joined arm-in-arm for a rousing rendition of ‘The Land’, it’s fair to say the crowd were on their feet!
Just like an election in Yeovil, Sheffield, or Portsmouth, the Lib Dems came out victorious! Oh yes, we won! But most importantly, we did something great. Instead of being snapped by a fateful letterbox, or harassed by a self-assured Yorkshire terrier, student Liberal Democrats campaigned for a cause that affects such a great proportion of people in Britain and across the world.
We raised over £820, and to celebrate we did what Lib Dems do best, enjoyed a quiet pint in our favourite local. With the help Jo Organ and others, the Aber Uni Lib Dems ran an exciting and inspiring campaign.
We were chuffed – but more importantly, we were inspired that for one day at the peak of election time we took a step back and acknowledged that there is more to being a Lib Dem than elections. As Liberals we knew we had the passion and determination to always make a difference, and that kindness and compassion is the key to everything we do.
Thank you to the MSRC for helping us put together such an exciting and fun campaign!
If you’d like to donate to the MSRC go to our Just Giving page.
* Ollie and Sam are the Campaigns Officers of the Aber Uni Lib Dems. They are both politics students at Aberystwyth University.