From No.10 to Political Journalism to Consultancy:

A truly inspiring Masterclass with the remarkable Charles Lewington

Sam reads Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at John Snow College, Durham University, and is embarking on his Industrial Placement year with HSBC UK in the Agricultural Business Banking sector. Having always had a passion for community engagement, Sam is a founding committee member of Congleton Pride, represents youth, faith and LGBT+ on Cheshire Constabulary’s Independent Advisory Group and has recently been appointed a School Governor at a multi-academy trust.

In the May 2023 local council elections, he was a candidate for Congleton Town Council and Cheshire East Borough Council, where he cumulatively gained over 1000 votes. Having been a CCHQ intern during the Summer of 2022, Sam has been galvanised to pursue a political career where he can champion underrepresented voices and be a beacon of hope for ethical governance.

Having researched Charles Lewington and his career before our Masterclass at the Hanover Communications office in London, I walked in rather nervous about being in the presence of such an accomplished individual – this is the case for me at most Masterclass sessions! Immaculately dressed in a blue pinstripe suit and an excited grin, Charles sat alongside our wonderful chair, Emma, who guided us through his unique professional journey and provided Charles with a platform to illuminate us with his personal insights.

What resonated most with me most was Charles’ eagerness to articulate his experiences standing up, microphone in hand, seamlessly guiding us through his journey. From humble beginnings working for a local newspaper reporting on wedding anniversaries to working in Number 10 for former Prime Minister John Major and culminating in founding his consulting firm, Hanover Communications, exemplifies what a rollercoaster of a life he has had.

A coveted moment presented itself when I was given the opportunity to ask about his daily responsibilities as Executive Chairman of Hanover Communications. Interestingly, Charles disclosed his ritual of absorbing the contents of major broadsheet journalism and immersing himself in radio broadcasts for three hours every morning. This commitment demonstrates why he pursued the career that he did – he loves political journalism! As a fellow lover of news, his fascination for informed nuance demonstrated to me that being aware of one’s political surroundings is of paramount importance if journalism is one’s desired career.  

Engaging with an individual privy to the inner operations of Major’s premiership is a truly unique experience. Charles’ firsthand insights, unencumbered by the confines of scholarly textbooks, shed a humanising light on the reality of the post-Thatcher era and the birth of New Labour. His astute comparisons between the contemporary political zeitgeist and the latter phase of Major’s premiership reframed the current climate, not as an anomaly, but as a continuum in history – albeit devoid of the global pandemic and the Brexit years!

Our final section of questions pivoted towards personal development. My biggest takeaway was the encouragement to figure out what you are good at but, more importantly, what you are not good at. In a generation emphasising the cultivation of one’s strengths alone, the advice provided a refreshing perspective, particularly for those of us navigating the intricate labyrinth of deciding upon one’s career route. The general advocacy for the ‘hustler’ mentality resonated with all Patchworkers and fueled a collective resolve to seize every opportunity within our grasp.

Charles’ steadfast commitment towards development, compounded by his zest for political journalism, made this one of the most refreshing and useful Masterclasses, which I know has provided unique nuggets of insights to me and my fellow ‘Sustainables’ cohort.

Sam Worthington, 2023 Masterclass Participant