Every year, Bournemouth and Poole HMD Committee organise a civic event. In 2016, 700 people attended the moving event at Bournemouth International Centre - the largest event in the region.
Faith leaders took part in the ceremony, such as Rabbi Adrian Jesner who sang a prayer in Hebrew, while survivors shared their testimonies with the audience. Two Holocaust survivors spoke about people who didn’t stand by, and who helped them in their time of need. For one Holocaust survivor, William Bergman, it was the first time he had told his story in public. Following the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2016: Don’t stand by, the story of a young Christian Syrian woman was also shared, with the aim of promoting a message of peace and drawing attention to victims of ongoing conflicts.
Candles which represented the many victims of genocide were lit by a diverse group of local people, including representatives from disabled, LGBT, Tibetan, Muslim and Romani communities. Young people from the local community were also invited to light additional candles, to represent the future generation’s commitment to understanding and commemorating the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.
The event provided an opportunity to showcase other activities and work which took place in preparation for Holocaust Memorial Day, including performance art by students at St Peters Catholic School and a chorus of ‘Do you hear the people sing?’ from the Wessex Chorus.
This event is a firm fixture in the local area, with the date for next year’s event already announced (29 January 2017). Bournemouth and Poole HMD Committee organise annual events for Holocaust Memorial Day, with a diverse and dynamic team helping to create the events and ceremonies which take place on or around 27 January each year. They also have a strong presence in the local area and on social media. Local councils, schools, libraries and other community groups all support and contribute towards the event.
Carl Woodward, Vice Chair of the Bournemouth and Poole Holocaust Memorial Day committee, said:
‘As Vice Chair of the Bournemouth and Poole Holocaust Memorial Day committee, it’s been a huge honour and privilege for me to contribute and co-organise the Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration. This year, once again hundreds of people gathered at Bournemouth International Centre to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. Around 700 members of the community looked on as seven candles were lit.’
He continued: ‘It was a solemn moment as they watched the candles being lit as the theme song from the emotive Schindler’s List played over the sound system’.
Lynda Ford-Horne, one of the organisers of the event, said: "Holocaust Memorial Day is a really important reminder. To say it was a gross tragedy is an understatement and yet genocides and mass killings continue in our world. We must resolve to learn the lessons of our past.
Bournemouth councillor Lawrence Williams welcomed the congregation to the event, saying:
‘I'm delighted this event has now returned to Bournemouth. I'm here today not just as a Jew but also as the portfolio holder for equality and diversity. We're here to remember the six million Jews murdered in Germany but also gay men, disabled, the elderly and infirm, not to mention gypsies and others. On the rail tracks which led into Auschwitz there are poppies laid and on them reads 'never again'. Yet still in the news we have stories of people fleeing tyranny. Let's all gather strength from our differences and work hard to ensure such atrocities never happen again.’
- If this example has inspired you to organise an activity for HMD 2017, read our theme vision here.