Monday, 9 December 2013
BBC spokesperson in Kent and London on the death of Nelson Mandela Friday 6th December
I was called by the BBC very late on the evening of 5th December, having just returned from the FSClub dinner at Lloyds of London. As Church of England representative for Canterbury on General Synod I had already been lined up since the initial scare about Mandela's health deteriorating a couple of months ago. My long standing connection with Desmond Tutu had led to his Hon Freedom of the City of London last month and at that time, I had reviewed Mandela's Hon Freedom granted to him by the City in 1996. I had met Mandela in 2005 in South Africa and also in London the following year at the SA High Commission. BBC radio wished me to speak on the Breakfast Show at 7am the following morning. My five minute interview on 6th December with John Warnett is on BBC Radio Kent iplayer and it is 1 hour and 9 minutes into the three hour show! I then went to Broadcasting House and was recorded for BBC TV South East News which went out at 6.30pm the same day. Now, of course, the news has been swamped with anecdotes and tributes to the great man. I spoke of the time I was with him and Desmond in Soweto and the Madiba magic was in full force. Another occasion I had to curtail flash photography at an event for him I had organised as Mandela's eyes had been badly damaged through chipping stones in the scorching sun on Robben Island (where I was also taken!). Friday was a hectic day with two other major events (see further blogs!) resulting in me ending up at home in Kent at 2am on Saturday.