Sir John Major

Sir John Major hosts a dinner in support of the Foundation

October 1, 2015 | Nick Taylor

On Wednesday 30th September 2015, Sir John Major KG CH, hosted a dinner in support of the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace.

Sir John was Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997 and was closely involved in the initiation of the Northern Ireland peace process.  He was in close contact with the Ball and Parry families following the Warrington bombing and became a patron of the charity when it was founded in 1995.

The dinner was staged in the city of Liverpool and supported by the Mayor and his team.  The venue was the private members club, the Athenaeum.

Guests included representatives of the city community, local and international businesses and Athenaeum Proprietors.

Sir John told guests that the IRA attack on Warrington was truly wicked and that opinion hardened against terrorism and that the bombing became an important staging post in changing the history of Ireland.

He said: “the Foundation for Peace is a triumph for the human spirit, they are evangelists for hope and in promoting understanding and guiding the next generation.”

He went in to say that what this ‘small’ charity is achieving is amazing and pointed out that it took a handful of activists to oppose apartheid, a few idealistic dissidents to change the force that was the Soviet Union.  Sir John said the Foundation deserves respect and support because the teaching is spreading.”

Charity Founders, Colin and Wendy, hosted over 70 guests and Colin spoke about the need for continue dsupport for the Foundation’s work.

Chief Executive, Nick Taylor, addressed the dinner and his speech is reproduced below.

If you would like to find ot more about our work contact Nick:

Nick Taylor – John Major Dinner Speech

 There was no warning when the IRA exploded two bombs on a shopping street in Warrington. In fact the warning that was given suggested that the bombs had been left in the street that runs adjacent to the Athaneum here in Liverpool.

On that day 22 years ago, when terrorists targeted children, families and innocent shoppers; I think all of us must have thought there could be no lower depths to sink to.

And yet, as I speak to you this evening, violent conflict has taken acts of savagery, depravity and outrage to a completely new level. The scenes we have seen graphically played out have shocked us all. It is not an understatement to suggest that such violence and the motives that drive it is a threat to peace, stability and society itself.

Twenty years ago, when Colin and Wendy established our charity, their hope was that they could do something that is a common wish across all those who have suffered at the hands of terrorism.

That is that nobody would ever go through what they did in losing their son. That is a hope that still drives us and we have created a unique and inspirational charity based at the Peace Centre in Warrington, a building that is a living memorial to Tim and Johnathan, and an incredible asset from which we operate our organisation.

In these brief words I would like to set out the context for our work, describe what we are doing and ask for your help, assistance and support.

The number of terrorist incidents has increased virtually every year since 9/11.

In the last few years there has been a deterioration of world peacefulness for the first time since the end of the second word war.

There is increased instability in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly through the rise of ISIS, creating a huge number of fatalities, injuries and societal consequences. The destabilisation of that region has created mass migration of those seeking refuge and the ramifications for Europe are far from clear.

Global conflict is a constant – from tensions between the two Koreas, concerns over China’s growing military assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region, the potential further expansion of the Middle East conflicts across borders, and the possibility that conflict between Russia and the Ukraine escalates into all out military confrontation.

And these are just the hotspots.

There is an upsurge in far right activity in parts of Europe and here on our shores we face a heightened threat level and constant challenges as some are radicalised, travelling and returning from areas of conflict and others take their pernicious campaigns to our social media and onto the streets. Just a few weeks ago the Mayor of Liverpool and people of the city stood together to see off a toxic group of far right activists intent on staring up hatred on these streets.

In some respects, sitting here in this calm and tranquil building, it may seem difficult to join up the dots in seeing how this has an impact upon us all.

However when French cartoonists, Australian coffee drinkers and British holidaymakers on a beach are suddenly faced by someone with high velocity weapons intent on taking their lives, when those who travel, live and work abroad are at high risk, when we face those who want to challenge democracy and our ways of lives, then we know we are all at risk.

And for many of you here this evening who work in commerce in sectors from investment to industry to construction; I don’t need to reiterate that in a truly global economy the price of peace and the cost of conflict is high.

In fact violence costs 13.4% of world gross domestic product – GDP. Estimated at 14.3 trillion US dollars. This is equivalent to the combined economies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom – and increasing rapidly.

So it is something that impacts everybody in this room, in this city, your businesses at home and abroad, this region and beyond.

Our charity is set up to provide a response to this position. We draw upon twenty years of experience first gained from engaging in the conflict on our islands.

Now, our projects are national and international and what we do is unique. Whilst there are some Non Governmental Organisations, academic institutions and think tanks occupying the space of peace building and conflict resolution – there is only our charity that is out there doing the work we do. That is the prevention, resolution and response to violent conflict and by that I mean terrorism, political violence and war.

Our work is delivered through a portfolio of projects that match contemporary challenges. What we do focuses on young people, from offering general leadership development to working with those who may be vulnerable or at risk of using violence or being influenced by extremism.

We work with women to enhance their conflict resolution skills and recognise their unique ability to influence within families and the community,

We assist British citizens and other people domiciled here that may have been a victim, survivor or affected by serious violent conflict. And we still are the only British based organisation working with the Irish Government to promote peace and reconciliation both east and west of the Irish Sea.

We work with professionals such as teachers and our work is being developed in this city in partnership with John Moores and Hope universities.

Our work is carried out across the UK and further afield into Europe and beyond. This year we have worked in countries as far afield as Somalia, Nigeria, Norway, Greece through to recently completing work on education resources for the Canadian Government.

The projects to resolve conflict takes us into towns and cities across the country from Birmingham to Leicester, Western Super Mare to Dewsbury, Leeds to Liverpool – and at this stage I pay particular thanks to Mayor Anderson for his personal support.

Earlier this year the City Council unanimously passed a motion of support for our work and we are now undertaking projects across Liverpool.

Today, my team was in Alsop School just close to the inner ring road, and soon we are hoping to undertake a project with people from Palestine and Israel who are living in the city as well as many projects working with women’s groups and also schools through our THINK and My Former Life projects. And Joe has kindly agreed to champion the motion that Liverpool City Council passed across every major authority in this country.

And it is that sort of support that brings us together as a movement for change to challenge violent conflict. A movement that can promote the freedoms, democracy and violence-free society we all need.

Of course, Governments alone cannot do this on their own but the sort of professional members of a club like the Athaneum and the sorts of businesses and organisations you all work for can make that difference.

Many of you can help and I hope this evening through what you hear and experience you will be motivated to get involved. Some of you are from businesses and organisations that operate globally, some of you work across Government in areas such as defence, engineering and education. All of you work for organisation that know about the social impact you create and are prepared to invest in the communities in which you operate – and you have the capabilities and capacity to help us grow and build our work.

The sort of investment we need is not large. Many of our projects are inexpensive. For as little as £150, the ticket price you paid tonight, we can take a young person through one of our education projects.

The entire cost of running the Peace Centre for a year is less than the cost of one Brimstone Missile (They have great names these missiles – the other type is called Hellfire) – the sort of weaponry now being deployed in Iraq and Syria on a frequent basis. Makes you think doesn’t it – prevention is better than cure?

And we need help with the challenges ahead – the sort of help many of you and your companies and contacts can bring.

Because our charity will be at the forefront of dealing with the many refugees coming to our country, some of whom will be highly traumatised, and also the returning so-called ‘foreign fighters.’ We will be delivering projects in de-radicalisation, resettlement and rehabilitation. And we need to enhance our physical asset, our ‘home’, the Peace Centre, to do this.

So investors and construction and building companies; there are great opportunities to engage and make a real difference that will have huge social impact and will be good for us, good for society but also great for business as well.

I know that many of you have sustainability at the heart of your business whether that is the way you invest in your employees, in the communities in which you operate and also in your approach to the environment. But how many of you have assessed the risk of global conflict and what it is costing your business? Because, its a glaring omission on a lot of risk profiles, and a seemingly intractable problem with few solutions.

Yet, if you are prepared to engage with us then we could make a huge difference working together.

And finally, as travel companies such as Thomson and First Choice found out recently, there is a need for any business that has its people working abroad, or indeed anyone who lives, works or plays abroad to seek a safer world and many of our projects can help with that.

We are extremely well connected, well thought of by many senior and influential stakeholders.

Our approach to governance, our performance, the handling of our reputation and our ambition for growth make us great people to work with. We are a charity but we operate as an SME business that is growing to enterprise level. Its been a difficult year for the charitable sector with some high profile failures, but we are an organisation that has a track record and through our quality management system demonstrate real solid outputs and outcomes.

So my appeal to you tonight is please don’t leave here and let this opportunity slip.

Lets swap contact details and lets arrange to meet. This is an open invite to you all to come and visit the Peace Centre and find out more and lets see what we can do together as we have a challenge on our hands. We are up for it and hopefully you will be to.

So maybe just maybe I have whet your appetite and talking of appetites I think its now time to say – dinner is served.

Thank you for listening.