Our History

The Peace Child Story – 1981 to 2021

Forty Years of Thought-Leadership

Peace Child’s mission to “empower young people” has taken many forms over its 40 year history and evolves as is needed with society and the hopes and dreams of the young people that guide our mission.

The young people involved between 1981 and 1990 would have known the musical and the international musical exchanges around the world.

When we worked out of the White House centre, between 1993 and 2015, over 400 Peace Child interns from 50 countries would have known our books and training materials alongside our mega World Youth Congresses.

People coming to Peace Child now would know it for its innovative youth job creation and Work Readiness Programmes which have transformed the lives of tens of thousands of young people.

The common thread linking all these programmes is our passion for making young people feel good about themselves and their potential; about them taking control of their lives and their future.

Peace Child developed the concept of Youth-Led Development – youth as instruments in the delivery of international development aid, not just the beneficiaries of it. This concept is now accepted by many mainstream development agencies from the World Bank to UNDP as an effective tool of international development.

All 193 UN member governments finally got our message when they promised, in their 75th Anniversary Declaration, to “listen to and work with youth…” and seek “meaningful engagement” with them. Peace Child has promoted, and also benefitted from, such meaningful engagement for 40 years.

Key achievements

Over the past 30 years, we’ve tapped into the energy of millions of young people in 183 countries and worked in partnership with some of the world’s most powerful organisations. Together, we’ve taken on some big challenges.

Fighting Climate Change


We engaged young people from more than 100 countries in launching a children’s version of Agenda 21, the UN’s sustainable development plan. The publication sold half a million copies.


We ran programmes for 18,800 children promoting sustainable lifestyles, sponsored by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Areas (DEFRA).


We led a Green economy campaign at the Rio+20 Summit, reaching 163 million youth in partnership with 100 organisations.

Tackling youth unemployment


We launched our first training academy in Kenya, followed by academies in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, producing thousands of young entrepreneurs..


We organised the first International Youth Job Creation Summit in London, attended by representatives from the European Commission, UK government, World Bank and more than 100 youth job-creation specialists.


We set up an global youth task force to develop a road map to full youth employment by 2030. We also started a peer-to- peer employability programme, reaching over 2,000 UK students.

Our Founders

In 1981, PCI founders David Gordon, Bernard Benson, David Woollcombe, Rosey Simonds and Michael and Eirwen Harbottle came together to engage youth in creating a better future for themselves. Initially through a musical before beginning youth-led programmes to inspire, educate and empower the future generation.

Rosey Simonds & David Woollcombe

Rosey produced numerous Peace Child musicals and the musical City of Peace. For the past 12 years she has run Peace Child’s UK educational programmes sponsored by Defra, Transport for London and the UK and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

David was the Author and Director of the 1st performance of Peace Child, the Musical in the Royal Albert Hall and over 30 other performances. David continues to drive the youth agenda, advocating for true youth participation on a global stage and is currently Chair of Trustees.

David Gordon

Composer of the music and lyrics of the songs in Peace Child the Musical – drawn from his oratorio, Alpha Omega – which tells the history of humanity from the dawn of time through to the final apocalypse.

Eirwen Harbottle & Brigadier Michael Harbottle

Eirwen Harbottle created the idea of Peace Child – a celebration of Peace, to stand alongside the protests of CND against war and nuclear weapons; Chair of Peace Child Board of Trustees from 1982 to 2009.

Brigadier Michael Harbottle was the Director of the World Disarmament Movement which produced the 1st Performance of Peace Child, the Musical in 1981; Soldier, Peace-maker, founder of “Generals for Peace” – and author of the ‘Thin Blue Line’ – the UN’s first Peace-keepers handbook.

Bernard Benson

Author of The Peace Book on which Peace Child, the Musical is based. He is a father of nine children, Buddhist philosopher and early pioneer of computer science.

Inspiring young leaders from all over the world

Gathering young leaders from all over the globe