The former Beirut hostage John McCarthy was the special guest at the latest SporTedd fund-raising dinner held at The Wharf riverside restaurant in Teddington on Tuesday 17th October.
John, who has lived in Teddington for the last seven years, shared his views on the current conflict in Israel and Gaza as well as telling of his personal ordeal at the hands of Islamic Jihadist kidnappers.
He was kidnapped on the way to the airport on April 17 1986 and held in 13 different locations until his eventual release five years later on August 8 1991.
John, 67, had only been in Beirut for a month replacing the bureau chief of a television news organisation when he was ambushed on the way to the airport to move back to London.
The guests were silent as he recalled in vivid and eloquent detail how he was blindfolded and chained in a cell and how he eventually befriended fellow hostage, the fiery Belfast-born Brian Keenan.
He also shared lighter moments of his 1943 day incarceration when he and Keenan followed the football World Cup in 1990 and at one stage saw the Oscars ceremony on a TV when the presenter referenced the release of Nelson Mandela and the fall of the Berlin Wall – both monumental world events they had no knowledge of.
John was the latest guest of SporTedd, a not-for-profit community group, which raises funds for sport-themed projects in the Teddington area. Over 40 projects have received a total of £82.000 sinceSporTedd launched.
Historically sporting stars have been the special guests including Gary Lineker, Sue Barker, Sir Andrew Strauss, Tim Henman, Jason Leonard, Seb Coe, Clive Woodward, Lawrence Dallaglio, Kenny Loga, Conor O’Shea, Tracy Edwards, Christine Ohuruogu, Mark Hunter, Roger Black, Damon Hill and Wayne Barnes.
Amongst the raffle items were five copies of the book John wrote with his then girlfriend Jill Morrell, Some Other Rainbow, which he signed for the winners. He pulled out his own ticket as a winner of his own book but kindly returned it!
John revealed that he was still close friends with Jill who led the headline-making campaign known at the time as Friends of John McCarthy.
The special evening raised over £2000 and SporTedd will make a substantial donation to a charity called Freedom From Torture which John is a Patron of (www.freedomfromtorture.org)