A pin could have been heard hitting the floor in the DRT this week when we welcomed John McCarthy to speak to Year 12 as part of their induction in to the Sixth Form.
It is now 30 years since John was taken hostage in Lebanon and kept in captivity for five years. The recounting of his time in Beirut before being taken and his amazement at the resilience of the Lebanese population to keep life going followed by his experiences of being a hostage and how he coped with the isolation, brutality and tension kept the incoming Sixth Form pupils rapt.
He talked of how overwhelming the experience was in the early months when he was alone, how he kept reviewing his life and whether if he had worked harder would have made any difference to his predicament. Raising a smile with the audience, he recounted how one morning he had awoken in a cold sweat one day thinking he had to re-sit his A Levels before reminding himself of where he was and that that was the past.
Inspired by his meeting with Brian Keenan whilst in captivity who on initially meeting he thought he’d have little in common with, his message was one of creating friendships with those that are different to you and where you have come from as they can so often enrich your life.
“Cherish the differences between you and learn from them,” John told them. “Remember to listen to what people say rather than prejudging them, keep learning and keep enjoying the world.”