CHAIRMANS REPORT – 11th October 2015

Can we please stand for a minutes silence to honour our members who have passed away within the past year.

This year has been a very full, exciting and successful year for the Society.

The Journal was brought out and my thanks to Angela Cohen for her help with the printing and publishing

The annual Memorial Service was held at the Elstree and Boreham wood Synagogue and our thanks go to Michael Helfgott for organising it and to Solly Irving for conducting the service.

The Channukah party in December was a happy social event and our thanks go to Michael Helfgott for arranging it.

We were an integral part of the Yom Hashoah meeting held at the Allianze stadium. Our involvement was one of financial support and consultation. In addition to me Angela Cohen, our Vice Chairman, spoke at the event and she was an inspiration.

The Montefiore lecture was given by William Tyler and was the last in the series of the "Second World War 1939-1945". The next Montefiore lecture "The Genius of Churchill" will be given by William Tyler at JW3 on April 14th 2016. 

Our involvement with Holocaust Memorial Day was important and we continue to maintain this connection.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of 300 of "The Boys" in Windermere on the 14th August 1945, Trevor Avery mounted a special exhibition at the museum in the Windermere Library. A group of 20 made up of "The Boys" their children and grandchildren, travelled up and were welcomed at a reception and opening of the exhibition. To mark the occasion an oak tree was planted in the grounds of the original hostel Travel to Windermere was facilitated by Virgin Rail which offered a special fare concession and an upgrade to 1st class. Many thanks to Kim Stern who arranged for the distribution of the tickets.

The 2nd and 3rd Generation were active in responding to the Prime Minister's Holocaust Commission and we are proud of them.

The Memorial Quilt - the brainchild of Julia Burton- was one of the highlights of our year. Julia, together with her sister Rosalyn, worked long and hard to complete the quilt in time for the Reunion in May. The quilt and the accompanying book are a tribute to "the Boys" .

Each square is a display of the love, respect and admiration that the 2nd generation have for their Survivor parent. You may be interested to know that the quilt is due to be displayed at various museums throughout the country and that the book is available for purchase.

What an amazing year we have had but the highlight of the year has to have been the Reunion in May when 630 of us celebrated the 70th year of our liberation.

The evening was emotional, exciting and memorable.

Our members came with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The ratio of  "The Boys" to 2nd 3rd and 4th generation was 1 to 4.5 !!!!!

They came from far and wide and was testimony to our acting as a family and the overwhelming desire to celebrate this anniversary together .

The success of the Reunion calls for a vote of special thanks to Angela Cohen who kept her nerve when at the last minute the venue had to be changed to accommodate the large numbers; to Kim Stern who handled the queries and tickets -twice over!!!, to Maurice Helfgott for the film and acting as M.C.; to Rosalyn Gelbart for the seating arrangements, to Samantha Kingsley for the table arrangements, to David Graham for the audio visual arrangements; Sue Bermange for looking after the raffle, and Harry Spiro, Ziggy Shipper and Philip Burton and their band of willing helpers..

After 52 years as your Chairman, I have decided not to put my name forward for re-election.

I have been involved in many organisations over many years but nothing has been more gratifying than my work with the '45 Aid Society and "The Boys". I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved. Our rehabilitation has been complete and enormously enhanced and hastened by the establishment of our Society.

Within the Jewish community and beyond, we are respected and held in high esteem.

We have acted generously and responsibly and have tried always to give back to society.

I want to thank everyone who has served on the committee over all the years and my grateful thanks to the outgoing committee Angela Cohen my Vice Chairman, Kim Stern, Secretary, Alan Greenberg, Treasurer, Victor Greenberg, Solly Irving, Harry Olmer, Harry Spiro, SueBermange,   Julia Burton, Welfare Office, Philip Burton, Rosalyn Gelbart, Maurice and Michael Helfgott, and Gary Spiro.

I am confident that the 2nd and 3rd Generation members will act as a constructive voice in our community, and more widely, on issues where our perspective will be of value.

I am confident too that the 2nd and 3rd generation will, with passion and commitment, take on the mantle of caring for the members, creating projects to teach the lessons of the Holocaust and honouring our parents and loved ones who perished in the Shoa.

Thank you!

Ben Helfgott