May Blood, who retires from the Lords this month, launches IEF strategic plan
Irish Hollywood action star Liam Neeson delivered a special video message to veteran Northern Irish peace campaigner and trades unionist Baroness May Blood in London last week to support her Integrated Education Fund campaign.
The message was delivered to the IEF’s summer reception at the home of Northern Irish TV journalist and presenter Maxine Mawhinney, and her husband John Clare, in Chiswick, West London. Ms Mawhinney, a familiar face on many BBC news programmes, is a strong supporter of the IEF.
Mr Neeson sent the special surprise video message when he couldn’t join other guests at the reception to honour Baroness Blood as she retires from the House of Lords.
In the video he said: “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.”
Fellow stage and screen actor Ciaran Hinds sent his own video to say that the House of Lords will be a poorer place without May.
Among the guests and supporters who turned up in person were actor Stephen Hagan whose film Zoo is in cinemas, comedian Wendy Wason, voice of the ‘X Factor’ Peter Dixon, widow of much loved Northern Irish actor Jimmy Ellis, Robina Ellis, and Sir Harvey and Allison McGrath.
Baroness Blood, who has chaired the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) for 18 years, launched the charity’s strategic plan for the next three years, entitled ‘Integration Works for Everybody’.
Maxine Mawhinney paid tribute to Baroness Blood’s passion and energy – and in particular her efforts for integrated education: “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.
“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 ten per cent of all children in Northern Ireland in integrated education.”
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