© Noel Harrower 2018
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                           GLIMPSES OF UNA OVER THE YEARS                                        ( A personal recollection) I joined UNA in 1956. I was then a student at Manchester University, an ex National Serviceman who had spent 18 months in the Suez Canal Zone, and I objected violently to Anthony Eden’s Suez adventure. The UN Student Movement organized a protest march from the University to the Town Hall, and a group went on to London to present a petition to out local M.Ps. It was the first time I had taken part in any political protest, and that event made me a political activist. I stayed with the University UN Students Assn. I collected money for refugees during the Hungarian risings, I went to Moscow in 1957 representing them in a huge international student rally. (This was in the days of the newly emerging Khrushchev and Bulganin, who we saw in the Moscow Dynamo Stadium) I did not like the Communist propaganda, but enjoyed meeting students from around the world and I discussed and argued with them through long nights. After my return I took part in a Radio Three Broadcast about it all. Later I became Secretary of the Solihull Branch of UNA. In 1967, Sheila Parkes, our Regional Officer invited me to become the Central Region Youth Organiser. Peter Kelner, the National Youth Chairman and I got five branches going, Birmingham Central, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield, Handsworth and King’s Heath. We sent resolutions protesting about the Vietnam War to General Council, had two residential weekends in the Malvern Hills, and performed a musical presentation about Human Rights in Birmingham Cathedral. Heady days! I moved to Nottingham in 1969, went on the UNA visit to the UN in New York later that year, and was elected to the Executive Committee as a Regional Rep. One of my memorable experiences around this time was participating in a Branch Role Play on Development Issues with the newly elected young M.P. for Rushcliffe, Kenneth Clarke. When I became Secretary of the Nottingham UNA Branch some years later, Vietnamese Refugees were arriving in our own area. The Branch helped to set up the Vietnamese Friendship Association, which eventually helped found the Vietnamese Community Centre in the City. The Branch also got new stimulation at the time of The World Disarmament Campaign, when we organized a big rally with Philip Noel Baker and collected over a thousand signatures. Another stirring occasion was the UN International Year of Peace, when the a Million Minutes of Peace was organized jointly with the Brahama Kumaris World Spiritual University. It was our first venture into inter faith activity and proved highly effective, with the City and County Councils agreeing to have a minutes silence for peace before their meetings for the month before the opening of the next UN Assembly on Oct 24th 1975, and Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Bahai’s all co-operated counting the minutes spent in prayer and meditation. Other highlights were a MUNGA held in the Town Hall and a series of lectures on international issues at both Universities featuring such speakers as Lord Ennals (Refugees) Frank Hooley (Law of the Sea) Lord Howe (Future of the UN) and Sir Crispin Tickell (Environment). Major conferences were held jointly with the City Council in the year of the Rio Summit (with David Bellamy) and another called “10 Years On”, at the time of the Review Conference.  Later a Ugandan called David Luwum joined our Branch and we helped him campaign for an end of the war in Northern Uganda. In January 2004, he was able to visit his home area in company with the then Director of UNA, Malcolm Harper. They met up with members of UNA(Uganda) and were appalled at what they found in Kitgum District. The outcome was the founding of “The Friends of Northern Uganda”. Nottingham Branch raised funds to enable two escaped kidnapped children to return to school as boarders. I have now retired to Exmouth and am active in the Exeter Branch of UNA. Their next planned event is a Jubilee Lecture by Lord Hannay at Exeter University (their 50th year) on “The Reform of the UN”. The story goes on….                                                                                        Noel Harrower
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