Peace Through Understanding: the Malcolm Boddington Memorial Peace Conference, held at The Queen's College and the Said Business School on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th September 2016

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A fantastic conference and pre-conference dinner were held in Oxford on 9th and 10th September 2016.

Barbara Winton, daughter of Rotarian Sir Nicholas Winton spoke to 75 diners at The Queen's College about her father's life. We heard how he worked with friends and colleagues to transport 669 children from Czechoslovakia to Britain on the eve of the Second World War. Sir Nicholas was only 29 at the time and was many years later knighted for his humanitarian work.

On Saturday we heard from a remarkable group of speakers, introduced by Past District Governor Tony Bacon. Gabrielle Rifkind spoke about conflict resolution and the use of skills learnt in one-to-one counselling on larger scale peace processes; Melhem Mansour, a Rotary Peace Fellow, spoke about his home country Syria, and the complications of the peace processes; and Emeritus Professor Dawn Chatty, a former director of the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University, spoke about migration and refugees, with a focus on Syria and the Middle East.

We heard from two more Rotary Peace Fellows, neither able to attend in person, but both of whom sent videos: Colin Spurway spoke from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania where he works for BBC Media Action, a development charity working on peace education films. Ryan Gawn spoke to us from Bogota in Colombia where he has been advising the Yes Campaign on the current peace deal in the country.

After lunch Professor Neil Cooper from the Bradford University Rotary Peace Centre spoke about the course in Peace Studies and the Rotary Fellowships as a route to 'capillary peace' - helping people to go out and make a difference. Professor Roger Griffin, a Professor of Modern History at Oxford Brookes University with a specialism in the study of Terrorism, spoke about immortality projects and motivations.

The final speakers of the day were Jo Berry and Dr Patrick Magee. We heard about their ongoing conversations, healing and understanding and their amazing relationship: Jo's father was killed in the 1984 Brighton bomb, planted by Patrick Magee.

The event was closed by Eve Conway, President of Rotary in Britain and Ireland, and by Tony Bacon, chair for the event.

An inspiring and educational day.


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