History of TABU
Where does this familiar TABU Banner come from?
Its beginning stems from the “Peace Agreement” in 1989, in the era of Education for Mutual Understanding, when District set up a Mutual Understanding Committee. A Belfast Club MUC was also formed with Past President (PP)s Gordon Millington, Brian Byers and Michael Donaghy and Peter Mulqueen. In September 1990 Highland Park Club member Mike Shaw, an Attorney with a background in arbitration and mediation, had come to Ireland on a Carl Miller Rotary Grant to study how Rotary could help in resolving the conflict. He arrived in Belfast on 1st October and as a first port of call visited the Belfast Club. A chance meeting in the foyer with PP Gordon Millington set off a long standing friendship and a chain of events that have become part of the history of the Club.
Mike Shaw reported back from his study visit with a list of actions that could be taken by Rotary Clubs to work to a peaceful Ireland. Another chance meeting occurred shortly afterwards at a corporate function before an Arsenal football match in London when PP Gordon, there with PP Bryan Johnston, sat beside NI Secretary of State Brian Mawhinney and related the Club’s work to improving mutual understanding and the proposals being developed. This resulted in access to funding from the Community Relations Council towards the Club’s proposals and, particularly, a video to encourage Rotary Clubs and others to set up their efforts to spread understanding. The Club held a major conference in the RUAS attended by 42 District Clubs where the Belfast Club presented their TABU project - the video being one of the highlights. The video and PR material was also sent to those clubs not present. The TABU logo, Banner and PR material were created for this by Club member John Armstrong and the various projects put forward which included cross-border club twinning and cross community projects for schools, young unemployed and the business sector, had been developed by Toni Thompson who had been employed by the Club under the direction of the MUC.
This was the catalyst for an all Ireland pilot TABU project exchange to Highland Park with 4 students being selected by essay selection - there were 1,000 applicants and 14 were interviewed in the Dublin GPO. Other Belfast Club responses he indicated were: a Cork Twinning Exchange (which ran for 5 years) with a Club Millennium Rotary TABU Irish Whiskey Cask and TABU Lady a horse bought by Paul McWilliams, Derek McIlwaine, Gordon Millington and Roy McDougall to bring publicity to the initiative! TABU Lady actually won 4 races, 2 of which being ridden by AP McCoy!
So, the first Highland Park visit was born with PP Gordon travelling with selected students Collette Keane (Cork), Caroline Keys (Belfast), Nicolas Laird (Cookstown) and Richard Treacy (Monaghan), it has now been running for 27 years and is the only project from this time to be continued. He noted that it has evolved over the years moving from a District ‘All Ireland’ selection to Northern Ireland and now just the Greater Belfast Area, as funded by the Belfast Club.