Yesterday, 18 January 2018, more than 150 survivors of the Holocaust and genocide were welcomed by The Lord Mayor of London to a special reception at Mansion House ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day 2018.
The reception, organised by Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT), honoured the contributions to British society made by survivors and refugees of the Holocaust and of the genocides which have taken place since, in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
Speakers included The Lord Mayor of London Charles Bowman, Chief Executive of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust Olivia Marks-Woldman, Sir Eric Pickles and HMDT Lead Youth Champion Hayley Carlyle.
Welcoming survivors of the Holocaust and more recent genocides to his official home, The Lord Mayor said:
'I believe the more opportunities we have to learn from each other – and from the events in both the distant and recent past – the better. Simply, we must keep talking. The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘The Power of Words’, which is a testament to this idea.'
'Immigrants that have known such hardship are responsible for some of this country’s most-lasting images, including London Underground posters and the London bus stop sign.'
'And many other survivors have made London their home and continue to make an immense contribution to British life and our wider society.'
During the reception, it was announced that Sir Eric Pickles, a longstanding friend of HMDT and supporter of Holocaust Memorial Day, has agreed to join HMDT in the new role of Honorary Vice President, alongside Honorary President Ben Helfgott MBE, a survivor of the Holocaust.
Sir Eric said:
'I am honoured to accept the position of Honorary Vice President at the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust particularly to serve alongside the Honorary President Ben Helfgott MBE – a man I greatly admire, a man who has not only dedicated his life to ensuring that we not only remember the Holocaust in the UK but across the world.'
'I am deeply committed to ensuring that we not only remember those who lost their lives during the Holocaust but also the victims of Cambodia, Srebrenica, Rwanda and Darfur. I am looking forward to supporting the Trust in this vital work.'
Laura Marks OBE, Chair of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust says:
'There are few people who have done more to ensure that the lessons from both the Holocaust and other genocides are taught and learned than Sir Eric Pickles. He has campaigned tirelessly to ensure that we never forget just where intolerance and hatred can lead and we are thrilled and honoured that he has agreed to become the first Honorary Vice President of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.'
Speaking at yesterday’s reception, Olivia Marks-Woldman spoke about the thousands of local activities taking place around the UK to mark HMD 2018. She said:
'As a direct result of organising or participating in an HMD event, people learn more about the past, they feel differently about others, and they take action. What kind of action? They teach the kids and young people in their lives, they learn more, they encourage their friends to mark HMD. HMD makes a difference to what they know, how they feel and what they do.'
HMDT Lead Youth Champion, Hayley Carlyle, spoke to guests about her longstanding involvement with HMD:
'The Youth Champion programme is not just a means of reaching out and educating young people, most importantly, it provides young people aged 14-24 with tools, skills and inspiration, empowering them to act and be the ones responsible for the change they want to see in the world.'
The reception was supported by staff and volunteers from Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivor Centre. HMDT is grateful for all their work in helping so many survivors attend such a special occasion.