Colin and Wendy Parry were today awarded with Honorary Doctors of Education by Edge Hill University for their efforts in promoting peace and community education in the wake of a family tragedy.
On 20 March 1993, Colin and Wendy’s 12 year old son, Tim was involved in an IRA bombing attack in Warrington, and died four days later. Keen to ensure that their son did not die in vain, Colin and Wendy established the Foundation for Peace charity in 1995.
It was in the “very, very dark days” immediately following the bombing when the couple tried to find answers about why the IRA would choose Warrington, that they agreed to make a programme with the BBC.
“It was a very tough programme to make,” said Colin. “But we did find one bright spot in that month of making the programme. We witnessed a group of young Northern Irish people, politically divided but united around the concept that you cannot resolve disputes through violence.
“So while they may have had different political ambitions they all united around the concept of peace building.
“The foundation is predicated on the principle that you talk to your enemy. I can’t see how any progress can be made in any conflict of any kind without dialogue”
The Foundation for Peace works with people from all backgrounds to prevent conflict by helping them to develop the skills and understanding to be able to resolve conflict through non-violent means. The Foundation also provides training and guidance to leaders and mangers, including those at government level, on how to deal with past, present and future conflicts.
In March 2000 Colin and Wendy opened the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Centre in Warrington; a safe place where people can learn about non-violent resolution of conflict. Colin and Wendy are passionate about encouraging those involved in or affected by conflict to build meaningful friendships and find the means of working together to eliminate the prejudice and distrust.
Speaking to today’s graduands, Colin added:
“What matters most to us is that we make a meaningful and long term difference in the world.
“I would look to you to be the generation that can break the mould, who will step across the road to speak to someone from the other side, whatever that other side is, who do take the trouble to learn more about why people have differences and to make your own contribution. Everyone can make those bigger gaps smaller in a very simple way by conversation. That’s our simple mantra.”
Edge Hill University will award ten Honorary Degrees during its 2016 summer graduation ceremonies. Each of the recipients – leaders in a range of areas spanning film, law, politics, music, education, and philanthropy – will be recognised by Edge Hill for their contributions to society that resonate with the University’s values, teaching and research.