How foundation emerged from tragedy of bombing to become a symbol of peace
OUT of the tragedy of the Warrington bombing arose a beacon for peace.
Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation, operating out of the Peace Centre in Great Sankey, has sought to produce a positive out of what was a harrowing day.
It was founded thanks to passionate efforts by Colin and Wendy Parry following the devastating loss of their son Tim.
Speaking to the Warrington Guardian ahead of events organised for the 30th anniversary of the bombing, the pair reflected on how the foundation came to be.
“We got into conversation with a friend who was a youth club leader about how we would love to bring groups from Ireland and Warrington together to recognise that they are all the same,” Colin explained.
“In 1996 or 1997, we put together the programme and gave it the name the Tim Parry Scholarship, with eight kids each from Dublin, Belfast and Warrington spending time together.
“We also went to a peace farm, which was great. The principle was that you could have different opinions on the future of the island of Ireland, but it was peaceful with no violence.
“People were outspoken, people may have been arguing strongly as people can and have got deeply held opinions, but there was no risk at all of violence.
“That was the model which we thought was terrific and could be replicated here by us.”
Colin and Wendy met with Tony Blair in 1998 and talked about their desire to raise money to launch and sustain the foundation.
That led to contact with US President Bill Clinton, and some weeks later, the couple got six names and phone numbers to call, one of which them gave us £1million towards the cost of this building.
On the success of the foundation over the past 30 years, Colin said: “We are proud of everything it has achieved. It is a symbol of peace.
“People have said to us many times that they presume we forgive them (those responsible for the bombing), and I said no I do not. But for me, forgiveness is not critical.”
Colin and Wendy Parry at the Peace Centre ahead of events to mark the 30th anniversary of the Warrington bombing. Picture: Dave Gillespie
“We were not driven by the desire for revenge or negative thoughts. We wanted to do something good in Tim’s name, and John’s, so that is what this is all about.
“It is symbolic of parents turning their terrible loss into something good.
“The building itself is significant and symbolic, but it is the work we do in the long-term which accounts for more than the building.”
Wendy added: “We have always said the only person who can forgive them is Tim, but he is not here to do that.
“The work is more important than the building, when you think of the thousands and thousands of people who we have worked with who have come through the building, and all the victims we have helped from various incidents here and abroad.”
Explaining the work of the foundation, Colin spoke of how the foundation reaches out to any British or British-based victim of any terrorist attack anywhere in the world.
It also employs people who do preventative work, and plans are afoot to swell the 20-strong team, including employing another counsellor.
“During this year, we would like to recruit people to replace us. The plan is that we hang our boots up in 2024, because there comes a point where we do not feel we can continue long-term,” Colin added.
“We will maintain our connection by continuing to be trustees, but we need to find another chief executive.
“Financially we are in a better place now than we have been for a long time thanks to two anonymous benefactors, and that has enabled us to still be sitting here today.
“Early last year looked very likely we would fold.
“We certainly hope there is a bright future ahead, and we would like to leave the foundation in good health.”