Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate, 1943-2020

Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate  (l943-2020)

Co-founder Peace People (l976}


On Monday 23rd March 2020 a final farewell to Betty Williams took place at Roselawn Cemetry Belfast

However, because of the Coronavirus restrictions put on Burials, it was a sad day for her family and friends as they could not gather all together in the Rose lawn  Chapel (it was closed) to grieve and wish   Betty good-bye and thank her for all she had given to them personally, to the people of Ireland, to the world.   For a woman who loved her daughter Debbie, her son Paul, and her three grandchildren passionately and who responded with urgency and strength to anyone suffering who asked her help, especially children, it was a sad occasion, and yet it was too a time for a celebration of a life well-lived.  Betty Williams loved life, she enjoyed her life and she loved people.

On 17th March, 2020, Betty was admitted by ambulance to the Royal Hospital, Belfast.   On the morning of 18th March at 7.30 a.m., Betty passed away.  She had a difficult few years after back surgery and other health problems.   I last saw Betty at a Peace Summit in Barcelona and as we greeted each other,  I was shocked at how frail she had become and in pain and weakened by back pain.    In spite of this, I still was shocked to hear of her death on 18th March.

I therefore would like to take this opportunity to extend to Betty’s daughter, Debbie, Son Paul, and Betty’s three grandchildren and extended family members, the sympathy of my husband, Jack, myself, and family, the sympathy of all her friends in the Peace People and reconciliation movement, both at home and in the international community.

I loved Betty and I consider it a great privilege to have known and worked with her.   Betty was a woman of great courage, with loving compassion for all children.  After returning from living in the United States, she choose to live in the Republic of Ireland, (2004) and together with her daughter Debbie, set up an organization World Centre of Compassion for Children (WCCC) in Knock, Galway. Through this organization, she, in her great spirit of generosity reached out to many people globally and she had a particular love of Italy where she worked with refugees and migrants.

For myself and those who had the pleasure of knowing her as a friend and co-worker for peace, she will be sadly missed, but we will remember and celebrate a great life lived to the full and in service of the children for whom she had deep compassion and love.   Thank you, Betty, from all your friends and particularly the  Youth whom you inspired so much.

Mairead Maguire