11 October 2019
Last Friday, the Stamford Endowed Schools were honoured to welcome John McCarthy CBE, an author and journalist known for being Britain’s longest-held hostage during the Lebanon Hostage Crisis. John gave a memorable lecture in the Oswald Elliot Hall discussing the topics of resilience and self-motivation whilst affirming the importance of interpersonal relationships, through a descriptive narrative of his time of incarceration.
John was kidnapped at gunpoint in April 1986 whilst travelling home to the UK from working at a television news agency in Beirut, Lebanon; only being released in August 1991, after five years imprisonment.
John’s inspirational lecture, describing his shocking journey to self-discovery, characterised not only the cruelty he suffered within captivity, but the sense of friendship, comradery and humour he found when sharing a cell with Irish lecturer and philosopher, Brian Keenan.
His descriptions of the incarceration, encompassing depictions of his times of significant self-doubt, despair, and mental and physical torture, were both moving and humbling. He explained passionately how time in isolation allowed him to learn to live with himself, giving him a newfound drive and motivation for life.
Despite explaining such an emotive story, John spoke with extraordinary dignity and humour, captivating everyone in the room, often making light of what were somewhat terrifying situations. In a question and answer session following the lecture, John emphasised how he wishes to continue speaking of his experiences to audiences such as ourselves, encouraging others to develop their empathic and listening abilities, alongside their self-motivation, to be able to hone their individual and interpersonal successes.