St Albans pays tribute to Nelson Mandela
- Credit: Phil McCowen
St Albans district council has lowered its flag on the Town Hall to half-mast today as a mark of respect for Nelson Mandela who passed away last night aged 95.
As millions of people around the world mourn the death of South Africa’s first black president, St Albans MPs past and present have also paid their tributes to the anti-apartheid icon.
St Albans MP Anne Main said: “Nelson Mandela was a political colossus whose influence spread across the world and, despite being incarcerated for 27 years of his life, he still managed to bring reconciliation to South Africa.
“Mandela acted without bitterness and directed his energy not to seeking vengeance, but to abolishing apartheid and creating a unified country.”
Former St Albans MP Kerry Pollard had the honour of meeting Mr Mandela at an event in the House of Commons in 2004.
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He commented: “I was just sitting there and he said ‘Who are you?’ I was absolutely gobsmacked. I didn’t know what to say.
“He shook my hand and there was a warmth about him and a twinkle about him that I rather liked.
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“All of mankind has lost a hero.”
Mr Pollard went on: “It was just one of those dreams come true. I was pinching myself afterwards. He had that affect on everyone he met.
“He was a towering presence. You felt you were in the presence of someone really special.”
Mr Mandela served 27 years in prison for anti-apartheid activities from 1963 to 1990.
In 1993 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Frederik Willem de Klerk for their role in peacefully ending the apartheid regime in South Africa.
St Albans Mayor Cllr Annie Brewster has also recounted her experience of visiting Mr Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island earlier this year.
She said: “I learned first-hand about his tireless struggle for freedom from those incarcerated with him for over two decades.
“He has changed the world by demonstrating what can be achieved with humility, compassion and, above all, the strength to offer forgiveness and reconciliation.”