David Penhaligon is now best remembered for making by far the most memorable exhortation to deliver political leaflets: “Stick it on a piece of paper, and stuff it through a letter box”. Said at the Liberal Party Assembly in 1979, the saying is still found on the mugs in many Liberal Democrat offices, used for drinks of coffee during late night printing runs by campaign organisers who were not even born at the time the words were first said.
There was much more to David Penhaligon than that, including the qualities of leadership and motivation that would surely have made him party leader had he not been killed in a car crash in 1986, on his way to visit the local Royal Mail workers just before Christmas.
There is now a Crowdfunder project to raise the funds to record his life via a new website:
We aim to build a website which will host the recorded memories, audio or video, of interviews with those that wish to contribute to the project. Many of these interviews will come from his native Cornwall, whether from school friends at Truro School, at Cornwall Technical College, when he was an engineer at Holman Brothers or as the sub-post master at Chacewater.
Of course, most of the interviews will focus on his time as a Liberal candidate, then Member of Parliament for Truro. Penhaligon first contested Totnes in 1970 and then Truro twice in 1974, winning at the second attempt. He increased his narrow majority in 1979 and again in 1983. Many Cornish residents will have memories of these elections and of David as a hard-working local MP in Cornwall and we really want to capture these memories, however personal.
To achieve a credible picture of David Penhaligon we want as many interviews as possible, whether you met him once when he knocked on your door in an election campaign or if you were close friends. We want to make this website an online resource for local and historical research into one of Cornwall’s most famous voices.
However, his fame and popularity was not limited by the banks of the Tamar and he became the Treasury spokesman for the Liberal Party in Parliament under the leadership of David Steel and even became President of the Liberal Party. Many members of the party will also have memories of his political life and we also want to capture these memories too.
Our website will have the capacity to upload interviews and we will locate them either where the contributor is from or where the meeting with Penhaligon happened, building up a patchwork of memories across Cornwall and the rest of the country. We will also welcome photographs of those contributing and any with David himself, to build up a genuine archive of knowledge.
The project has 30 more days to raise its necessary funds. Do go and donate now.