Baroness May Blood’s tireless campaigning for integrated education has been celebrated at a reception in London – where supporter Liam Neeson told May that she is one of his heroes. The film star sent a surprise video message when he couldn’t join other guests at broadcaster Maxine Mawhinney’s house to honour the baroness as she retires from the House of Lords.
In the video, Liam Neeson says “I want to thank you for introducing me to the integrated education system. I’m indebted to you. You have been, and still are, a hero of mine.”
Stage and screen actor Ciaran Hinds added his own video greeting, saying that the House of Lords will be a poorer place without May.
The event was held at the London home of Belfast-born TV presenter Maxine Mawhinney and her husband John Clare last night (Monday 25 June). Baroness Blood has been the campaign chair of the IEF for 18 years and during the evening the Baroness launched its new strategic vision: ‘Integration Works for Everybody’.
Guests included actor Stephen Hagan whose latest film “Zoo” is currently in cinemas; comedian Wendy Wason; the voice of the ‘X Factor’ Peter Dixon; Robina Ellis, widow of actor Jimmy Ellis; and leading philanthropists and IEF supporters Sir Harvey and Allison McGrath and Cecilia and Donal Gallagher.
Maxine Mawhinney paid tribute to Baroness Blood’s passion and energy and in particular her efforts for integrated education:
“It is lovely to see so many friends gathering to celebrate the contribution of Baroness May Blood to the House of Lords. She always used her influence to bring about positive change and May used her seat in the Lords to try and advance many causes close to her heart and none more than the cause of integrated education. May has given 18 years of her life to the Integrated Education Fund and the good news is that this will continue long after her retirement from the Lords.
“It is fitting that tonight she presents the IEF’s new 3-year strategy to friends here in London. The IEF’s inspiring vision is to empower parents and schools to create an integrated choice for children. By 2021 we all want to see at least 10% of all children in Northern Ireland in integrated education.”
Baroness May Blood of Blackwatertown MBE was the first female life peer to be appointed from Northern Ireland. She was elevated to the House of Lords in 1999 for her community work and her role in the Northern Ireland peace process.
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