Guitar legend and ex-MP speak in Norwich
World-renowned Spanish flamenco guitar star Esteban Antonio
and ex-Government minister Jonathan Aitken
spoke to an audience of 170 in Norwich
on March 12, 2007. Kevin Gotts
Guests from across the public sector and business along with civic and church leaders were drawn to Norfolk’s second annual County Towns Initiative Dinner at Sprowston Manor Hotel on Monday March 12.
After an excellent three-course meal, two very different speakers took to the stage. Firstly Spanish flamenco guitar star Esteban Antonio and then ex-Government minister Jonathan Aitken. They were introduced by John Betts, chairman of Transforming Norwich.
With an air of charisma Esteban took to the stage. Donning his guitar he gave a taste of his personal testimony including accompanying legends Johnny Depp and George Michael and becoming a millionaire by the age of 23. Family tragedy had struck much earlier losing both his parents. Proud of his gypsy heritage he interspersed his talk with superb flamenco guitar playing.
At the height of his career, a mirror accidentally fell and damaged his spine, confining him to a wheelchair. Despair set in, with massive weight loss, money gone and his wife and friends deserting him. Eventually he knew he had to renew his contact with a London Christian lady who stipulated he had to visit her. Armed with a few pounds for the cab fare he went to her home with his only remaining friend. Miraculously, after prayer and his acceptance of Jesus Christ as his saviour, he was healed. Full of joy he walked home, calling on his old friends telling them of what Jesus had done and can do for them.
On stage he was then joined by his new wife, Erica, for a duo and he finished his set with his own composition based on Revelation 21v3.
A very well-known media face, Jonathan Aitken, took to the stage. He stood modestly with a demeanour which attracted everyone’s attention. He began with his incarceration in the late 1990s through a conviction for perjury, which labelled him the only British cabinet minister to go to prison.
Time had mellowed him. His delivery mixed the tragedy of jail and humour. Shortly after arrival at Belmarsh prison, walking past warders holding back Alsatian dogs, he was equipped with a ill-fitting prison uniform and stood before the psychiatrist who was oblivious to the media interest. The medic asked: “Does anyone other than your next of kin know you are here?”
“By now 15-20 million know this,” said Jonathan The medic in a soft tone retorted: “Do you have illusions of grandeur?”
The first night, after reading Psalm 130 and praying, he fell into a deep sleep. Expecting a tough reception he woke to a friendly welcome from inmates with an average age of 23, so many were younger, against his age of 57. Soon he was in demand from fellow inmates after he had written a letter helping a prisoner avoid his family’s eviction from their home. He walked around saying: “This geezer has fantastic joined up writing”.
Jonathan was saddened that one third of prisoners cannot read nor write, with a further third just able to achieve an age eleven standard.
He recounted his Christian walk, which began with a loose Anglican connection, but took a strong meaning after two friends met with him weekly before his trial, calling this his spiritual journey. He founded a “cell group” (to a chorus of laughs) who were able to make significant changes to their lives and today 17 of the 20 are leading crime-free lives.
Jonathan offered listeners a reality of hope for those willing to take a path of life with Jesus Christ.
Pictured top is Jonathan Aitken speaking in Norwich and Esteban Antonio.