When I heard the sad news this morning that Nelson Mandela had passed away, my mind went back to a cold morning in London in February 2005, when I was lucky enough to see him making a speech to kick off the Make Poverty History campaign.
It seems incredible to think of now, but that day, while the square was full of the world’s press and Londoners who’d come to see him speak, it wasn’t jam packed. It wasn’t a squeeze to get in. Anyone could just walk along to hear him speak.
Maybe that was because it was a weekday, and a very frosty one at that. Or maybe the event hadn’t been highly publicised – I’d only found out because it was mentioned in a tiny paragraph in that morning’s Metro newspaper.
At the time I lived 20 minutes walk away, and I was unemployed. So I grabbed my camera and walked down there as quickly as I could, just in time to hear him speak.
I wish I could remember exactly what he said, and I’m not sure how much of it I could hear clearly, but I remember being awe-struck just by hearing his distinctive voice. To be honest, just seeing the man in the flesh was enough. And his message – about ending poverty around the world – certainly came across with some force.
I later found out that it was in Trafalgar Square – with the South African embassy at its side – where people had protested for years against apartheid.
Here are my photos – which I’ve just dug out from the attic – from that morning.
Charlie Swinbourne is the editor of Limping Chicken, as well as being a journalist and award-winning scriptwriter. He writes for the Guardian and BBC Online, and as a scriptwriter, penned the films My Song, Coming Out and Four Deaf Yorkshiremen.
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s independent deaf news and deaf blogs website, posting the very latest in deaf opinion, commentary and news, every weekday! Don’t forget to follow the site on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our supporters on the right-hand side of this site or click here.
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
- Phonak: innovative technology and products in hearing acoustics
- Ai-Live: Find out how audism affects Deaf people
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Clarion: BSL/English interpreting and employment services
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Hearing Direct: Online hearing aids
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Signworld: online BSL learning and teaching materials
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- Krazy Kat: visual theatre with BSL
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- DCAL: Find out how to study at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre, London
- cSeeker: Deaf-led educational communication support service
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- Sarah Gatford: BSL interpreting, training and consultancy
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- Sign Solutions:, language and learning
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- SDHH: Project Development and Consultancy
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people
- deafPLUS: Money advice line in BSL
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists