The day I met Mandela...

Nelson Mandela and (below) Terry Wynn meets the great man
Nelson Mandela and (below) Terry Wynn meets the great man
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A FORMER Wigan Euro-MP has spoken of the proudest moment in his political life – the day he shook hands with Nelson Mandela.

As world leaders gathered in Soweto for the late president’s memorial service yesterday, Terry Wynn reflected on “a glowing memory of his own.”

Terry Wynn meets Nelson Mandela

Terry Wynn meets Nelson Mandela

Mr Wynn visited South Africa around two dozen times during and after his European Parliament days.

And the MEP was so overawed at meeting the iconic world-famous figure, he can’t recall their brief conversation!

Terry explained: “As a Euro-MP I took a great interest in the development of South Africa. When the National Congress held its first conference in Durban not long after Nelson Mandela was released, I was invited as a member of the Socialist Group to go along, accompanied by my wife Doris. We knew that there was a chance Mr Mandela would be there. We attended a small meeting – and Doris and I were the only white faces.

“I sat opposite the great man and when the moment came to depart, I just couldn’t allow it to pass without getting a photograph. Now I don’t usually asked to be photographed with famous people, but a snap with Nelson Mandela was just vital.

“Thankfully Doris had her little camera at the ready, the flash went off as I shook hands with him and it was all over in a few seconds. In fact, Doris didn’t take a second photo. Luckily the one she captured came out very well.

“Shaking that man’s hand remains one of the most moving and proudest moments of my life. What charisma this man had – it wasn’t long after his release from prison and when the photo was taken, we didn’t release that he would go on to achieve world fame.”

Mrs Wynn said: “Just looking at Nelson Mandela was enough to make me feel very emotional. When Terry asked me to take the photo, I was just glad I had my camera to hand. I suppose it would have been nice had we both been on the snap, but no matter. I’m not keen on being in photos at the best of times.”

Mr Wynn, who lives in Standish, said he had first gone to South Africa to visit relatives when he was in the merchant Navy.

He recalled a photo taken when he was with President Clinton.

When he tried to get a copy he was told “That one’s not being released.” It was known that president only allowed perfect pictures of himself to go world-wide.

It was always his aim to get world government aid for South Africa – and during his many visits formed the view that people with the least in life tend to be the most generous.