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Memorial lecture has peace focus

Memorial lecture has peace focus

This year’s Memorial Lecture at Blackpool Sixth had a timely focus on peace in a year which has seen many appalling terrorist atrocities in the UK and abroad. The speaker was Colin Parry OBE who is internationally renowned for his inspirational work in the field of conflict resolution.

Mr Parry’s son, Tim, was tragically killed in the IRA bombing of Warrington in March 1993. In subsequent years Mr Parry became a leading campaigner for peace, especially in the years leading up to the Good Friday agreement which brought peace to Northern Ireland. The charity which he and his wife, Wendy, helped establish, Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation, works nationally and internationally for peace and reconciliation from its base in Warrington.

The lecture was held on Thursday 9th November in the Blackpool Sixth Theatre. Mr Parry addressed an audience of students, staff and invited guests from the community.

Mr Parry’s talk started with a very personal and moving description of the immediate aftermath of the Warrington bombing and his son’s death in hospital five days afterwards at only 12 years of age.

He then recounted his involvement in a BBC TV documentary about the Troubles in Northern Ireland which led to his wife Wendy’s idea of a foundation for peace to help bring an end to the conflict. He said that Tim’s death was ‘the kind of momentous event which lays down a challenge’ and that challenge turned out to be the beginning of what has been nearly a quarter of a century of tireless work on conflict resolution, peace-making and victim support.

With the help of Northern Ireland Secretary, the late Mo Mowlam, Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President Bill Clinton, a million pounds was sourced to build and establish a peace centre based in Warrington. The centre opened in March 2000 on the seventh anniversary of the bombing.

The Foundation’s work focuses particularly on young people, offering leadership development, and work with those who are at risk from violence and extremism. They help British and British-based citizens who are victims or survivors of terrorism in this country or overseas. The Foundation is, for example, currently helping over 600 victims of the recent Manchester and London terror attacks in the UK.

At the end of his talk, Mr Parry took questions from the audience. One student asked him about the best way to achieve peace. He answered, “Talk to the people involved” and explained how this approach is at the centre of all effective conflict resolution whether it be on the personal, community, national or international level.

The Peace Foundation is a charity that relies on its supporters to raise funds, to volunteer and for the generous help given by its corporate partners. Details of how to donate to the centre’s work are available at: https://www.peace-foundation.org.uk/help-us/

The Memorial Lecture is supported by the Trustees of the Blackpool Grammar School War Memorial Foundation which was established in memory of the old boys of Blackpool Grammar School who fell in the two World Wars and remembers former pupils who have fallen in later conflicts.