The flak being thrown by both sides during the build-up to the American Presidential election has helped to produce a positive result for one local charity.
More than £2,200 was raised for Hospice in the Weald from the 140-strong audience who attended an election debate at the EM Forster Theatre at Tonbridge School.
Tonbridge & Malling MP Tom Tugendhat was joined on stage by former Judd School pupil and senior Telegraph reporter on the 2016 US election Tim Stanley. Both men are patrons of the Pembury-based charity, which provides in-patient and community nursing with family support and bereavement counselling.
The speakers were introduced by Hospice in the Weald Chairman Simon Lee.
Speaking of the ‘huge impact’ the hospice has on people’s lives, he informed the crowd that it costs £7million a year to run, and it was ‘events like this’ that help them to continue the work that they do.
The charity’s fundraising hopes for the event were boosted after the theatre offered to waive most of the hire fee.
Mr Stanley, a Sevenoaks resident and expert in modern American history, began the talk by exploring the past of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (Democrat) and Donald Trump (Republican).
He gave insights into their character, political vision and suitability for the position of being the next ‘Leader of the Free World’.
While the billing of the event suggested that ‘The Donald’ would dominate discussion, Mr Stanley was equally critical of Clinton, describing both candidates as ‘disliked to a unique degree in US history’.
As the talk moved on, Mr Tugendhat added his thoughts from a British strategic perspective. On the subject of the infamous wall that Trump proposes to build along the Mexican border, the MP insisted that the UK should be ‘extremely cautious of criticising the US’. He argued that it would be wiser to let ‘due process get on with it’, citing his trust in the US Constitution.
While Mr Stanley summarised the potential outcomes as ‘whoever wins, everyone loses’, the gloomy outlook was punctuated with light relief, including a surprisingly accurate Trump impression from the former Labour candidate for Sevenoaks.
The most unexpected revelation of the night, however, came early on when Mr Tugendhat casually revealed that he had once had dinner with Ivanka Trump, the business mogul’s eldest daughter. After giggles from the audience, he quickly clarified that it was a group dinner, later explaining it was organised through a friend and ‘not the dinner party I was expecting to be at’.
The two-hour talk was closed by Mr Stanley. His voice breaking with emotion, he thanked the hospice: “It is an astonishing organisation. When my father passed away these people were extraordinary. I don’t know what we would’ve done without them.”