Nelson Mandela’s former bodyguard gives inspiring talk to Peterborough pupils

One of Nelson Mandela’s former bodyguards has given an inspirational talk to pupils at a Peterborough school.

By Stephen Briggs
Saturday, 18th December 2021, 11:15 am
Chris during his visit to the school
Chris during his visit to the school

Drawing on his story of resistance against South African apartheid, Chris Lubbe captivated an audience of sixth formers, staff and guests at Nene Park Academy.

Chris grew up in a shanty town in Durban, South Africa, at a time when apartheid was at its height. He told stories of his first-hand experience of the brutality of apartheid when he was tortured in prison.

He ended up working as the bodyguard of the revolutionary president of South Africa throughout most of the 1990s, after a chance meeting. He spoke about how he met The Queen at Buckingham Palace when Nelson Mandela made a special visit during his time as president.

Vicki Barkney, who is the careers lead at Nene Park Academy, said: “We wanted to organise a really special event for our sixth formers this Christmas in recognition of the missed experiences due to Coronavirus that our students have faced. 

“Chris Lubbe is a fantastic speaker who really put our emotions to the test.  He had an amazing and inspiring story to tell, the main thread being about the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.”

Nene Park Academy, which is part of Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust, has a successful sixth form where students are encouraged to play an active role in the rest of the school by acting as mentors to the younger students. A number of sixth form students go on to university or further education each year, with others choosing a vocational path.

Robin Grover, Principal at Nene Park Academy, said: “Thank you so much to Chris Lubbe for inspiring our students and staff. Chris spoke about the real disparity that existed during the apartheid era and how he had been asked by Nelson Mandela to tell his story to people across the world.

“It was a fascinating talk that will no doubt have made those gathered think differently about their lives.

“It was wonderful to be able to have our sixth form students together with teachers at the end of term. Many of these students have been with us over the course of the pandemic and have had to overcome numerous challenges as they focus on their studies and develop their plans for future life.”