Speaker Series: Colin Parry

On March 20th 1993, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded two bombs without warning in a shopping street in the town of Warrington. The bombs were planted in bins on Bridge Street, which was the main shopping area. Three-year-old Johnathan Ball died at the scene of the bombing as a result of his shrapnel inflicted injuries and, five days later, 12-year-old Tim Parry lost his life as a result of fatal head injuries. 54 others were injured, some seriously. The incident shocked the nation and gained worldwide publicity. After the bombing, Colin and Wendy, the parents of Tim Parry, wanted to understand why the IRA targeted the high street of a medium-sized town in the Northwest of England.

Colin and Wendy Parry made a ‘special’ Panorama documentary programme, which took them to Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Boston in the USA. During their time in Northern Ireland, they visited organisations working for peace, to see how they engaged with young people living in the midst of what was seen by many as a ‘never-ending war’. Inspired by what they had seen, Colin and Wendy set up their own charity (the Foundation) in 1995 to work for peace. In 1996 and 1997, they organised their first exchange programmes for young people from Belfast, Dublin and Warrington, which were so successful, that Wendy proposed building a Peace Centre, both as a memorial to the boys, and to provide an East-West dimension to the peace process in Ireland. Colin and Wendy are now passionate advocates of understanding and peaceful conflict resolution.

After his talk and video presentation, Colin answered many questions from the students ranging on themes from forgiveness to politics and the potential loss of funding for the Peace Foundation. Colin also kindly signed several copies of his book “Tim, an ordinary boy” for the students. Colin’s honesty and his integrity were certainly an inspiration to all and the students certainly benefited from his words and presentation. We would like to thank Colin for coming in and speaking to our students.