In 1931, Noel Ede, having experienced the Great War, brought about by the rivalries amongst the nations of Europe, was looking for a way of replacing old enmities with friendship and peace between nations. To this end, he invited thirty students from Berlin University to visit him in Peacehaven, his home on the south coast of England, to meet and work with British students. From this modest beginning, he got together a group of like-minded friends to form an association which would enable young people from various European countries to meet one another and develop a mutual understanding of each other’s way of life. This is how the International Friendship League was born.
Noel Ede travelled tirelessly and succeeded in establishing IFL Friendship Centres around the UK and in many European countries. Sadly, there was to be another World War but, when this ended, the IFL continued to expand its activities and its membership.
Noel Ede died in 1960; he would have been delighted to know that the organisation he started continues to thrive. The IFL International Assembly is held each year in a different country and is followed by a holiday week which allows members to get to know the country and its people. Since the Millennium, we have visited England, Scotland and Wales, France, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, Senegal, Seychelles, Spain, Sweden and Uganda. An interesting development in recent years has been the growth of IFL in Africa and we now have groups in several African countries, as well as a fledgling group in India.
As we look ahead, the need for greater understanding and a spirit of friendship between nations is as great as it was when Noel Ede founded IFL in 1931. The International Friendship League continues to have a very important role to play in to-day’s world.