One year ago, Sir Nicholas Winton passed away. He was the most incredible man whose bravery and selfless actions saved the lives of 669 Jewish children from the Holocaust. He also had a motto: "If it's not impossible, then there must be a way to do it." It is estimated that over 6,000 people are alive today thanks to his selfless and heroic actions.
On Monday, I attended the annual Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassador Conference which was as inspiring and mind-blowing as I had hoped for, but this year an acute sense of urgency was in the air as we reflected upon the recent rise of racism, prejudice and intolerance we are witnessing in today's society. Remembering the Holocaust in times like these could not be more relevant and I think I speak on behalf of all the conference participants when I say that I left feeling galvanised with knowledge and motivation to persevere in my role as a Regional Ambassador for the Trust.
I was inspired to become a Regional Ambassador for Scotland when I left university, as the Lessons from Auschwitz project I had completed in my final year of high school had entirely shaped my outlook on life. For this, I felt grateful and wanted to contribute more to the work of the Trust. It had inspired me to study Human Rights Law and work in the areas of migration and extremism as well as human rights education and training. In my role this year I organised an event at Glasgow University linking human rights to the Holocaust, with survivor testimony from Henry and Ingrid Wuga who came to Britain on Kindertransport as Jewish child refugees. This was followed by an expert panel discussion on human rights issues, including the Nuremberg trials and the role of the bystander, subsequent genocides and the current refugee crisis.
Having met Henry and Ingrid and hearing their story, I knew how important it was to them that they found a safe haven in Britain before the war. But it also made me consider the people behind the Kindertransport, those who managed to rescue 10,000 children. It was therefore an incredible privilege to meet Sir Nicholas Winton's daughter Barbara at the Ambassador Conference. While Henry and Ingrid weren't rescued by Nicholas Winton, his actions saved the lives of 669 child refugees just like them. It was fascinating to hear from Barbara what she thought inspired her father to undertake this act of rescue on such a massive scale- his political astuteness, strong sense of justice and responsibility to act in spite of being told that what he was planning to do was impossible.
I was also fortunate enough to hear from Lord Alf Dubs who was rescued by Sir Nicholas all those years ago. Lord Dubs said that he was inspired by the actions of his rescuer when he advocated for the 'Dubs Amendment' to the current Immigration Bill to allow unaccompanied child refugees to be admitted to the UK. This got me thinking: what could I do? In times where I feel like intolerance reigns and public discourse about refugees can be irresponsible and dehumanising, hearing about how Lord Dubs and Nicholas Winton were able to make a difference when it seemed inconceivable has given me hope.
Armed with new knowledge and guidance about how to frame what we can learn from the Holocaust, I joined my fellow Ambassadors in pledging to #ShapeTheFuture in honour of Sir Nicholas Winton. I promised that I would not tolerate intolerance, I would not stand by and I would continue to raise awareness about the Holocaust and human rights protection in both my personal and professional life.
If I had the chance to meet Sir Nicholas Winton today, I would thank him for his amazing rescue effort and for having the courage to act in the face of adversity. But I would also promise him that we Ambassadors will carry on his legacy by acting in whatever way we can to help others and exercise human compassion. I pledge to continue working hard to #ShapeTheFuture. I hope that he would be proud of us.