Burnham man's meeting with Nelson Mandela

This is The West Country: Michael Turner Michael Turner

A BURNHAM teacher was the first tourist to meet Nelson Mandela when he was released from prison.

Michael Turner, a 58-year-old teacher from Burnham, recalled his moment with the charismatic man on the day world leaders gathered at a memorial service following his death last week.

Mr Turner met Mandela when he was swarmed by media at his home in Johannesburg.

The industrious teacher managed to talk his way into the throng of media to get Mandela’s attention.

Mr Turner said: “Mandela came out onto the porch and I didn’t know the media protocol so I said: ‘Excuse me, Nelson Mandela, could you look over here so I can get a picture? I am a school teacher from England and can I have a photograph with you because you are my hero.

“To which Mandela responded: ‘Come here, you have just become my hero’.”

Mr Turner also had the rare opportunity to interview Mandela’s wife, Winnie, for 12 minutes about Mandela’s life in prison.

Mr Turner was interviewed by the BBC and the Afrikaans newspaper Beeld.

He still has a copy of the paper featuring a photo of himself with Mandela, who called him a ‘red faced Englishman who took his chance well’.

Mr Turner added: “It really put Burnham on the map.”

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