John McCarthy CBE

John McCarthy CBE

  • Dealing with Crisis and Crisis Management
  • Resilience
  • Mental Health Speaker

John McCarthy CBE is a British journalist, writer and broadcaster.  In April 1986, as a young journalist on his first foreign assignment for the United Press International Television News, John was snatched on the way to the airport just before he was about to fly back home.  John was kidnapped by Islamic Jihad and became Britain's longest-held hostage, being held in captivity for more than five years until his release on 8 August 1991.  He was appointed a CBE in 1992. 

John McCarthy tells the dramatic story of his captivity in a dignified, self-deprecating and inspiring way that makes you understand how he came through five years of not knowing whether he would see another day. 

John McCarthy’s life as a hard-working journalist was radically changed when he was dramatically kidnapped in Beirut. A hostage for five years in the Lebanon, family and friends fought to keep his plight in the public eye.

John McCarthy needed supreme levels of self-motivation and strength of character to survive squalid captivity, as he never knew from one day to the next if he would live or die. Justifiably, John McCarthy CBE is a popular speaker whether it is for a business, motivational or an after dinner event, and he works hard to tailor his talks to fit the occasion.

Clients praise his natural style in public speaking and value the lessons he has to give on the art of negotiation, for example, or on dealing effectively with bullying. John’s story is inspirational not only because he survived but also because he is able to describe the cruelty he suffered, as his captors tried to break his spirit, with such extraordinary dignity and humour.

For further details, please contact a Prime Performers Booking Agent via the online booking enquiry form or alternatively call 020 3500 3331


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John is a truly enjoyable and inspirational speaker and someone I guarantee you will remember for a long time. His experiences simply put your own concerns into perspective and show you how you can overcome most demands. How can a looming deadline or difficult project or customer compare to John overcoming extreme adversity during his years in captivity. John gives an amazing insight into how he faced up to and overcame enormous challenges. He speaks about coping with fear, beatings and being chained up in horrible conditions with a mixture of candour, humility and also great humour. One moment you are appalled by his terrifying experiences the next you are laughing at his vital and deep friendship with Brian Keenan, or his attempt to fight his fellow hostages corner with his captors. He said a sense of humour gave him strength and helped him survive the worst of times – and that certainly showed. A very rewarding hour and a genuine pleasure to listen to John speak. Logica.
I truly hope we get the opportunity to work with John again and I cannot recommend him highly enough as a speaker his story, his survival and his humour a winning combination. Pri-Med
I just want to convey my sincere thanks to you for presenting at our Tourism and Hospitality Executive Programme this week. It was an honour and an absolute pleasure to meet you and to have you involved in our event. I particularly noticed that during your hour long talk hardly anyone moved and you could have heard a pin drop, you certainly captivated our audience. The feedback from the event has been absolutely fantastic with many people telling us it was the best event so far. One delegate commented “John McCarthy is the most inspirational speaker I have ever heard, very moving, honest and uplifting” and I wholeheartedly agree. Tourism & Skills Network