Integrated education supporters celebrated at the House of Lords

Baroness May Blood, Campaign Chair of the Integrated Education Fund, welcomed around 120 guests to the House of Lords on Tuesday 5 November for a dinner celebrating the crucial role played by our supporters around the world.

House of Lords

Sponsored very generously by the Carson family, the London event was a chance to thank the stalwart friends who assist the IEF in our work to help make integration, not separation, the norm in Northern Ireland’s schools.

The party was addressed by Kathleen Gormley, Principal of Hazelwood Integrated College, and by Christopher Madden, who is a former pupil of Ulidia Integrated College in Carrickfergus.

Christopher told the audience: “For 21 years the Integrated Education Fund, with its key actors, particularly Baroness Blood, has strived to create an education system in Northern Ireland that promotes togetherness. To me, it seems quite simple: a system which promotes respect, tolerance, and understanding for all people in our society will engender a more respectful, tolerant, and understanding population.”

Kathleen described how Hazelwood IC meets the challenges presented by a multi-cultural school population in an interface area. She added  “I am overwhelmed by the support given to the college in many ways. At Hazelwood we have a lot to be grateful for and never for one minute should you doubt the difference you make. People in this room tonight have given us inspiration to challenge ourselves and others not to accept easy answers or to just go with the flow. Thank you.”

Donors were joined by a number of politicians and senior diplomats as well as past pupils of integrated schools. Supporters travelled from far and wide to enjoy the celebration and Baroness Blood took the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of the many steadfast friends of the Fund who had not been able to make the journey on this occasion. Declaring that the IEF would continue to campaign at a crucial time in Northern Ireland, Baroness Blood said

“We have had 100 years of separate education. We know it will not change overnight but change has started and mark my words – change will come. We will continue to provide the evidence that public opinion is on the side of change…We will provide a vision for a better education system based on integration and a road map as to how to get there.”

The event, in the Cholmondeley Room of the House of Lords, included an excellent dinner and a fine view, from the terrace, of the Guy Fawkes’ Night fireworks.