Inventor Trevor Baylis pays tribute to Nelson Mandela

This Is Local London: Trevor Baylis met Nelson Mandela in 1995. Trevor Baylis met Nelson Mandela in 1995.

Inventor Trevor Baylis has paid tribute to Nelson Mandela after the first black president of South Africa died last night.

The 76-year-old, who lives in Eel Pie Island in Twickenham, came up with the idea for a wind-up radio after watching a documentary about the problems getting information about Aids to people living in rural Africa.

Mr Baylis said his idea was rejected by companies in the UK but after being endorsed by Mandela, it launched his inventing career.

He said: "A lot of people do not realise but I was turned down by every company in the country.

"Had it not have been for his backing, it might never have been able to take off and enjoy the success which I have done."

This Is Local London:

Trevor Baylis lives on an island in the river Thames in Twickenham

He added: "I am a lucky lad, I have a fantastic life with all that I need in it - I run around, living on an island.

"But that poor man, he spent 27 years behind bars because of the colour of his skin.

"You could not have blamed him if after being released, he had hated every white man on the planet, I know I would have, but he didn't."

Mr Baylis met him in June 1995, five years on from his release from prison.

He added that Mandela greeted him at his home as an old friend and spoke freely with him.

He said: "I couldn't believe it, it was a real honour to meet the chap.

"To sit down and talk with him, to have my photograph taken with him, well it just doesn't really get any better than that, does it?

"He and I were chatting away like a couple of old buddies over a cup of tea."

He has invented more than 250 products, including a shoe that generates enough electricity as you walk to charge a mobile phone and a self-weighing briefcase.

Mandela died yesterday aged 95 after suffering from a lung infection.

 

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