Milton Keynes pays tribute to Nelson Mandela

A wreath to honour former South African president Nelson Mandela was laid at the MK Rose Memorial in Campbell Park on Friday.

Milton Keynes Mayor Brian White laid the flowers at the Mandela Day pillar erected to commemorate the anti apartheid leader who died on Thursday.

He paid tribute to the 95-year-old, saying: “For people who thought politics doesn’t matter, Nelson Mandela proved that politics can change the world.

“I was one of few people who witnessed a speech given by Nelson Mandela at a Labour Party conference in the 90s.

“He was there to thank the Labour Party for the support it had given the ANC over the years and was truly inspirational.

“Most speeches go over your head, but I will always remember it. You felt he was talking directly to you and engaged everyone.

“I also remember the day he was released from prison. I was at another Labour conference when the news of his release came through. The atmosphere totally changed and there was a real buzz. I’ll never forget it.

“But I think the most important thing he achieved was when he put on a Springbok shirt at the Rugby World Cup in 1995. That single act united the people of his country and transformed the politics of South Africa.”

The city’s two MPs also paid tribute. MP for Milton Keynes South, Iain Stewart, said: “I offer my condolences to the family of Nelson Mandela and the people of South Africa.

“He was a remarkable man who taught the world peace and reconciliation. Although his physical life has drawn to a close, his benevolent spirit and enormous legacy will endure for all time.”

MP for Milton Keynes North, Mark Lancaster, said on Twitter: “Desperately sad news about Nelson Mandela, amazing man who delivered change that others dreamed. Will be sadly missed by the world.”