Activities report (October 2017)

October 2017 [Manchester, UK]

Report by Sean Morris, UK & Ireland Mayors for Peace Chapter Secretary

Mayors for Peace Vice President and Lead City Manchester held three events in October that relate to its local, national and international support of Mayors for Peace.

Re-dedication of a memorial stone to the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (October 5th)

The first involved the re-dedication of a memorial stone to the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA) remembering those servicemen and merchant seamen who took part in the British nuclear weapons programme in the 1950s and 1960s, and their ongoing campaign for recognition and justice for illnesses they believe are linked to radiation exposure from the tests. A large number of veterans were present at the event which was led by the Lord Mayor of Manchester, multi-faith leaders and senior councillors. Manchester City Council fully supports the work of the BNTVA. October 5th was the 65th anniversary of the first British nuclear weapon test.

The BNTVA memorial stone with remembrance wreaths

The civic reception for the 20th anniversary of Mines Advisory Group being a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (October 12th)

The second event was a civic reception to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Manchester-based Mines Advisory Group (MAG) receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for work in achieving the International Treaty to Prohibit Landmines and Cluster Munitions. This work was seen as a fore-runner to the recent work undertaken by ICAN, Mayors for Peace and other groups with states that led this year to the International Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. The event allowed the Lord Mayor of Manchester, on behalf of the city, to welcome the positive work MAG continue to undertake, at great risk, to remove landmines from around the world. At the reception were the founders of MAG, Lou and Rae McGrath, as well as special guests like MAG Global Ambassador Sir Bobby Charlton.

MAG Ambassador Sir Bobby Charlton
with the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Eddy Newman at the reception

‘Project G’ schools event and the Hiroshima seeds initiative (October 18th)

The third event was a peace education event with Manchester schoolchildren around Manchester’s ‘Project G’ initiative. This is the latest event of Project G, which celebrates Manchester receiving gingko tree seedlings originating from an A-bomb damaged tree which regrew the following spring, making it a powerful symbol of rebirth and peace. At this event in Manchester Museum, the University of Manchester, children from Heald Place, Websters and St Margaret Mary Primary Schools took part in a group event developing school peace plans. They also heard from the Lord Mayor of Manchester and two students, Rachel Kean and Chris Moss, who were involved in recent Hiroshima exchange visits in August. It was also announced that the six schools involved in Project G will be receiving their gingko trees in late November, which are now ready to be planted outside. The children talked about many peace activities they are involved in, and new activity their school wishes to develop. A follow-up event is planned in early 2018 to allow the children to present a more detailed school peace plan to the Lord Mayor and the University Chancellor and poet Lemn Sissay.

> Project G weblink including video interviews with some of the participating children

Students from Websters Primary School developing school peace plans

Manchester, with the UK and Ireland Mayors for Peace Chapter, also welcomes ICAN being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Manchester City Council is also a lead member of the UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities, who are an active, supporting partner of ICAN in the UK and Ireland and they share in the prize and welcome the increased profile it brings to the international nuclear disarmament movement.

(Photos courtesy of Mayors for Peace UK & Ireland Chapter)