10:23AM, Wednesday 27 January 2021
The statue of Sir Nicholas Winton at Maidenhead Station was lit up with candles. Photo by GWR/Simon Galloway
The statue of Sir Nicholas Winton at Maidenhead Station has been lit up spectacularly to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
The statue of the man known as the ‘British Schindler’ has been illuminated with 669 candles, representing the 669 children he rescued from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia before the Second World War, most of whom were Jewish.
The theme for this year's Holocaust Memorial Day was ‘be the light in the darkness’, so Great Western Railway lit up the statue today to mark the occasion.
The Maidenhead resident passed away in 2015 aged 106 but continues to be remembered for the lives he saved.
Great Western Rail’s business assurance director Joe Graham said: “We thought illuminating Sir Nicholas’ statue would be a poignant way of paying respect to a man to whom so many owe their lives.
“Sir Nicholas sadly passed away in 2015 but his statue at Maidenhead Station provides a permanent reminder of his heroic deeds in providing hope and shelter to those 669 children.”
When he was 29, Sir Nicholas travelled to Prague, just months before the Nazis arrived in 1939. He met many parents who were desperate to get their children out of the country.
Sir Nicholas and other volunteers organised for these children to be put on trains to Britain. The first train departed one day before the Germans arrived, and after travelling back to Britain, Sir Nicholas was able to organise seven more trains, known as the Czech Kindertransport.
Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s head of communications Asel Guillot said: “As we mark Holocaust Memorial Day from the safety of our homes this year, we reflect on the depths humanity can sink to, but also the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after genocide – just like Sir Nicholas did in his time.
“Holocaust Memorial Day is for everyone. By learning from genocide, we can all build a better future, we can all be the light in the darkness.”
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