Our work is overseen by a board of Trustees which is responsible for the governance and strategic vision of our work.
Our Trustees are from a broad range of backgrounds and contribute to our work through regular board meetings and liaison with the HMDT staff team.
Each Trustee stands for a minimum of one three-year term, and is eligible to be re-elected for one further three-year term after this time. Three of the places on our board are reserved for those from the Board of Deputies and two for the Holocaust Educational Trust.
Sir Ben Helfgott – Former Honorary President
Ben was born in Poland in 1929. During the Nazi occupation he was sent to several concentration camps. Most of his family did not survive the Holocaust. After liberation from Theresienstadt, Ben moved to the UK. He trained as a weightlifter, competing in two Olympic Games. Ben worked tirelessly in the field of Holocaust commemoration, and HMDT is proud that he represented us as our Honorary President. Sadly Ben passed away on 16 June 2023. This is what Ben said about his work at HMDT:
‘Because of my childhood experiences in the ghettos and concentration camps, the hallmark of my life has been the promotion of harmonious relationships and better understanding toward my fellow human beings. Having witnessed how quickly people can descend to committing acts of barbarism, I was determined to warn contemporary society of the potential for genocide if the lessons of the Holocaust are ignored. I strive to overcome bigotry and racial prejudice brought about by ignorance and intolerance. To this purpose I spend much of my time promoting research, education and remembrance of the Holocaust in the hope that the lessons of the Holocaust may be understood and learned. The aims of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust coincide with my own and hence I am happy to be a part of it.’
Read our Chief Executive Olivia Marks-Woldman OBE’s tribute to Ben in the Jewish News.
The Rt Hon the Lord Pickles – Honorary Vice President
Lord Eric Pickles became Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s Honorary Vice President in January 2018.
Lord Pickles was appointed Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues in September 2015, replacing Sir Andrew Burns. Lord Pickles works closely with the wide range of Holocaust academics, survivors and educational and social organisations in the UK.
Lord Pickles was Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar from 1992 until he stood down at the general election in June 2017. He was formerly Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Laura Marks CBE – Chair
Laura is a consultant (The Common Good) and activist focussing on issues relating to faith and gender.
After a career in marketing, she founded Mitzvah Day in 2008, which brings people of different faiths together through social action, and now operates in over 20 countries.
Building on her interest in faith groups and in women, Laura co-founded Nisa-Nashim, a national Muslim Jewish women’s network in 2016 and has also set up a multi faith Women’s Faith Forum to feed into policy issues of today. She is former SVP of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and a current trustee of the Jewish Leadership Council and the Commonwealth Jewish Council.
Laura has advisory roles on the UK Freedom of Religion or Belief Forum and the Mayor of London’s Equalities Diversity and Inclusion advisory group.
She is a regular contributor to BBC 2 Pause for Thought with Zoe Ball and writes and speaks regularly.
Laura joined the board of HMDT in 2013 and became Chair of the trustees in 2016.
She has 3 adult offspring, two dogs, is married to Dan Patterson and lives in London.
Sir Leigh Lewis KCB – Vice Chair
Following a career of nearly 40 years in the Civil Service – the last five as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions from 2005 to 2010 – Leigh has over the last nine years undertaken a variety of roles in the public, private and not for profit sectors. Currently Leigh is Vice President of the homelessness charity, St Mungo’s and he was previously Chair of Trustees at Drinkaware, the alcohol education charity.
In addition, he is a non-executive Director of Fair4All Finance, a body established by Government to promote affordable borrowing. Leigh is also a visiting fellow at Greenwich University Business School.
Leigh is a lifelong supporter and season ticket holder at Watford FC.
Amanda King – Treasurer
Amanda has twenty years’ experience as a finance professional. After qualifying as an accountant in practice she worked in a variety of finance roles for the Walt Disney Company, Cable and Wireless Plc and the Centrica Group. Most recently she was CFO of a start-up technology company in the energy sector. Alongside her career she has worked in a voluntary capacity for a primary school and for her local church.
Amanda has a degree in Modern History from Keble College, Oxford. ‘I believe that understanding the past is critical to understanding the present and creating a better future. The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s work helps us all better understand the Holocaust and other genocides. With that understanding we can create a better future’.
HE David Ashley
David has 30 years of diplomatic and international experience, working primarily on genocide and conflict prevention. Having studied history at Cambridge and SOAS, David worked for the UN in Cambodia, including advising on the establishment of the tribunal for Khmer Rouge leaders. After joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1999, David helped secure UK ratification of the International Criminal Court. He has subsequently worked to end conflicts and pursue justice in the former Yugoslavia, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Since January 2021, he is the British Ambassador to Madagascar.
David said: ‘My father, now 96, and all my grandparents were Jewish refugees from Germany. My wife is a Cambodian survivor of the killing fields. Unsurprisingly I feel passionate about the need both to honour the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, and to stop such crimes from being repeated in today’s world.’
David Austin OBE
David is the Chief Executive of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the UK’s independent regulator of film and video. In this capacity, he considers potential harmful content for the classification of theatrical films, online videos and websites, including about the Holocaust.
Before joining the BBFC, David worked in the Diplomatic Service, specialising in conflict resolution and post-conflict reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
David says: ‘I learned a huge amount about tolerance and the fight against racism from my father, who as a young Czech Jewish boy, escaped the Nazis and came to England… From this personal experience I believe passionately in the work of the Trust to bring the wider community and future generations knowledge and awareness of the impact of the Holocaust and the lessons we should learn from it.’
Dr Kate Ferguson
Dr Kate Ferguson is a foreign policy expert recognised for driving a new approach to the prevention of identity-based violence and mass atrocities. She is Co-Executive Director of Protection Approaches where she leads the team’s political engagement strategy and manages the charity’s fundraising portfolio.
Kate serves as the Chair of Policy at the European Responsibility to Protect and is a Visiting Research Fellow with the Centre for Grant Strategy at Kings College London. She is a regular commentator on domestic and international issues relating to identity-based violence in the press and continues to publish academic writing.
Paul Giannasi OBE
Paul is currently the Hate Crime Advisor to the National Police Chiefs’ Council in the UK. Having accrued 30 years’ experience as a police officer, he advises on hate crime policy and coordinates national responses, managing ‘True Vision’ (www.report-it.org.uk) and the National Online Hate Crime Hub on behalf of the police. He is the co-author of the national Police Hate Crime Guidance which offers advice to all UK police officers and partners.
From 2007, until it ended in 2017, Paul led the cross-government Hate Crime Programme, which brought all sectors of government together with civil society, to coordinate efforts to improve the response to hate crime across the criminal justice system.
For over a decade, Paul represented the UK Government to international governmental agencies on hate crime. He has a number of publications and has worked to share good practice in many developing and post-conflict states, training professionals and assisting in policy development.
Dr John Howell OBE MP
John Howell OBE is the Member of Parliament for the Henley Constituency. He has a long interest in the Holocaust and the individuals who perished at the hands of Nazi persecution, and also in more recent genocides. He has wide international contacts and interests including Africa and Central Europe where the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica occurred. He believes it is vital to remember what happened in these conflicts, to root out Holocaust denial and to protect the world from further antisemitism (anti-Jewish hatred) in particular.
John has served in Parliament in various roles and has been a longstanding member of the Justice Select Committee. He is the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Nigeria, and also sits as a UK representative on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). John is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators where his interests include arbitration and especially mediation.
Michael worked in business for many years and has been an active Trustee in the charity sector for decades. He is currently a Trustee of JW3 (a Jewish cultural and community centre), The Separated Child Foundation (a trust providing comfort and welfare to child refugees in the UK) and The Jonathan Levene Music Scholarship (a trust providing assistance to socially disadvantaged young and aspiring musicians).
For many years, Michael was the Chairman of the London Jewish Cultural Centre (LJCC). As part of the LJCC’s Holocaust teaching and awareness programme, the organisation funded and produced the Holocaust Explained website to help learners understand the essential facts of the Holocaust, its causes and its consequences.
Michael’s late mother-in-law Mascha and many of her sisters and brothers were survivors of Auschwitz and other concentration and labour camps during the Holocaust, and provided testimony of their terrible experiences.
Joan Salter MBE
Joan Salter is a child survivor of the Holocaust. Since the 1980s she has been involved in Holocaust education and research and has an MA in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
In addition to her own Holocaust experience, her presentations and papers include Surviving Occupation in France, and Tarnow the life and death of a Polish Jewish Town. She has presented in schools, universities, and at corporate and civic memorial events as well at academic conferences in the UK, USA, Germany, Poland and Greece.
In 2018 she was awarded an MBE for services to Holocaust Education.
Naved is a social scientist and trainer, and is currently a Consultant Researcher at the Woolf Institute, where his special interests include faith issues in palliative care.
Naved was a Research Fellow at the Policy Research Centre, with interests in policy concerns on civil issues and faith. He has trained extensively across the public and third sector on issues of identity, integration, social change and extremism. He served as a School Governor and teaches GCSE Islam in several Jewish schools.
Naved Siddiqi is a Trustee of New Horizons in British Islam and served as a board member of the Islamic Society of Britain. He was tutored in theology and in Islamic social and political history by the late Professor Zaki Badawi, and is a reader in anthropology and comparative law, including the contextualisation of Sharia. He tweets @ThisisNaved.
Before moving across to the Charity Sector, Peter had a long career in the marketing communications industry, most of which was spent at Saatchi & Saatchi, where he spent nearly 11 years as a Board Director and finally as CEO of Saatchi Direct, their database marketing subsidiary.
He also spent four years at the Daily Telegraph where he set up their first Sports Marketing Division, and led the team that created Fantasy Football and Fantasy Cricket database promotions. He later became Group Marketing Director of i-Level, the UK’s largest digital and on-line media planning and buying Agency.
His first role in the Charity Sector was as Director of Fundraising, Marketing & Development at Grief Encounter, the child bereavement charity, and then Head of Marketing at the Retail Trust.
Peter is a Member of the Institute of Marketing and sits on the Marketing Committee of the Internet Advertising Bureau.
Revd Dr Richard Sudworth OBE
Richard is a priest in the Church of England and is the Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and National Inter Religious Affairs Adviser for the Church of England. He has over twenty years of experience in interfaith relations and community work, and holds a doctorate in the theology of Anglican relations with other faiths from the University of London. He has written extensively on interfaith relations including a chapter in a book on preaching which challenges Christian anti-Jewish tropes, identifying how what we say in our worshipping communities can so easily lead to the othering of outside groups.
Richard lives in multicultural, multifaith Birmingham with his wife, Fiona. In his spare time, he enjoys tennis and going to concerts and gigs.
Marie van der Zyl
Marie van der Zyl was elected President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews in May 2018. In the past three years she has played a crucial part in the fight against antisemitism (anti-Jewish hatred) in the Labour Party. Her quote, labelling the Chakrabarti report as a ‘whitewash’, was carried widely across national media. Marie was at the forefront of the campaign against the so-called ‘cab-rank’ policy, by which the Inner North London Coroner delayed the release of bodies to Jewish families. The High Court recently ruled that this policy was discriminatory. Her negotiations with King’s College London resulted in its adoption of the internationally recognised IHRA definition of antisemitism and she has energetically pursued interfaith relations with Britain’s faith communities.
Marie, who represents JLGB, is married with two girls. In her professional life she is a solicitor specialising in employment /equalities law and a partner at Gordon Dadds LLP.