Jill Morrell

Clacton & North East Essex Arts & Literary Society

October 24th JILL MORRELL, the girl John McCarthy was going to marry, tells the other side of the story. For Jill, the five years of John McCarthy’s captivity were a different kind of hell: the initial shock and disbelief; the gradual acceptance that John had been taken and that her life was changed irrevocably, and all their plans had been shattered. Sponsored by FREDA LEECH, MERYL and PETER BROWN.

Jill Morrell Jill Morrell (born 1957) was the girlfriend of John McCarthy, and was a tireless and effective campaigner for his release from kidnappers who held him in Lebanon for more than 5 years. Raised in Yorkshire, she is a graduate of Hull University. Morrell kept McCarthy’s name in the public domain with a campaign to free him, called “Friends of John McCarthy” (FOJM). After McCarthy’s release on 8 August 1991, the public hoped for a fairytale ending for their relationship. They did stay together until 1994, but they then parted amicably and McCarthy met BBC photographer, Anna Ottewill, and eventually married her in April 1999. Morrell has worked for charity Cancerbackup, now Macmillan Cancer Support as their Policy and Public Affairs Manager, putting into practice the skills she acquired during the FOJM campaign. Latterly she has held the role of Head of Public Affairs with the British Lung Foundation.


  1. Jill Morrell October 24th
    The second presentation by the Arts and Literary Society brought Jill Morrell to the Princes Theatre to give us her side of the John McCarthy story. Members had heard from John, himself, last year and were anxious to know more.

    The programme started with a film about John McCarthy ending with his release on 8 August 1991. Jill, then, related her very moving story of her feelings when he was kidnapped and of the many friends who helped her establish the Friends of John McCarthy and all the efforts they made to keep his name before the public despite the complete disapproval of the Foreign Office.

    She spoke of her journeys to meet the various other hostages who had been released and learned that John was alive. However, the Foreign Office did not believe them. It was the release of Brian Keenan who had actually been with John in Beirut which got reaction from the Foreign Office and led to his eventual release.

    It was not a story with a happy ending as the years of struggle led to the eventual parting of John and Jill in 1994 after they had written ‘Some Other Rainbow’ together. The parting was amicable and John later married. Jill now works for various charities including the Macmillan Cancer Support and with the British Lung Foundation.

    The evening was sponsored by members of the Society,Mrs Freda Leech and her daughter and son-in-law, Meryl and Peter Brown.

    Audrey Owens Press Officer

  2. Jill Morrell-speaking about John Mc Carthy
    Everyone thought that Jill Morrell`s moving account of her time before, during and after John Mc Carthy`s abduction and subsequent imprisonment for five years in Beirut, was superb.

    She spoke with great conviction and is further proof that under tremendous pressure, the human spirit can survive-it was a shame that if finally resulted in them parting some time after being re-united.

    Both their lives were irrevocably changed by this huge event and they were no longer the carefree couple they were before this happened.

    Knowing her many connections within the media, I personally felt that the evening would have benefitted from some `stills` and a selection of the mass of video and television coverage given at the time-however, the evening was yet another very entertaining and tot ally engrossing event.

    Jennifer Kersey 25-10-2011

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