Today programme anchor Sarah Montague will be interviewing the Prime Minister at the Conservative party conference just days before she travels to Guernsey to moderate the annual IOD debate on 3 October.
Although she grew up in Guernsey she concedes that it is impossible to keep up with island affairs alongside her day job dealing with national, international and global news.
“I can’t keep across it. I do get updates from family and come across some of the issues when I am to and fro, but I will need to gen up again because I am very aware I can’t get it wrong,” she said.
“At least there’s no danger in my calling it Jersey!”
Ms Montague has been briefed by the IOD’s organising committee and has a fair amount of bedtime reading to do over the next three weeks. She enjoys the challenge of working with panellists and a live audience.
“Part of the challenge is to get everyone contributing so you have a flow of ideas and you know that anything could come up.
“I am enjoying the preparation for the Guernsey debate because I love reading how the arguments are going. I am always more excited about doing something like this because I feel more part of it. It’s much harder work because it’s so broad ranging and it’s catching up. I am interested in every interview I conduct but perhaps more so for Guernsey just because it’s home,” she said.
And there have been quite a few changes since she was working for Channel Television in the early 1990s.
“There are characters I know and new characters as well who have come onto the political scene and have a higher profile. I love seeing the way that people who were doing something completely different have become immersed in a different aspect of island life.”
Ms Montague is encouraged that a table of students will be attending the debate, under the Directors of Tomorrow initiative sponsored by the Ana Leaf Foundation. She will meet the students earlier in the day to encourage their participation.
“It’s hugely important. Because Guernsey is such a small island young people have a greater ability to shape their future than students in similar situations in the UK. Decisions anywhere have wide reaching ramifications but, on a small island, perhaps more so and so it’s great if they are at this stage getting involved and interested in island business and politics.”
Audience participation will also be a key element of the event.
“They have to make their point and make it quickly. I don’t want to be hijacked by somebody taking the floor; that’s part of the fun of managing it. To make a good debate comments and ideas should be clear and concise; then they can contribute and everybody enjoys it, not least me,” she said.
Two panels will participate in the debate. The panellists looking at Guernsey’s internal challenges are: Peter Mills, a director of the Optimus Group and chairman of GIBA; Wayne Bulpitt, founder of the Active Group; Chris Brock, founder of Island Analysis and Robin Newbould, managing director of Bullion Rock.
Those looking at the external environment are: Steve Williams, director of European affairs, Channel Islands’ Brussels office; Stephen Lansdown, co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown and William Mason, Director General of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission.
The principal sponsor of the IOD debate is Carey Olsen, with additional sponsorship from Long Port, Credit Suisse, JT, the Ana Leaf Foundation, The Partnership and Sueco. Contributors are Spike Productions, Delta Production Services and Orchard PR.