South Tyneside remembers Holocaust victims

Mayor Coun Olive Punchion and Mayoress light candles with others at the Holocaust Memorial Service at South Shields Town Hall.
Mayor Coun Olive Punchion and Mayoress light candles with others at the Holocaust Memorial Service at South Shields Town Hall.

A community came together in South Tyneside to remember victims of the Holocaust.

Schoolchildren were among those who gathered today for a poignant ceremony marking Holocaust Memorial Day.

Mayor Coun Olive Punchion and Mayoress Mary French with youngsters, Ella Gotts and Kaba Al Shamim, at the Holocaust Memorial Service.

Mayor Coun Olive Punchion and Mayoress Mary French with youngsters, Ella Gotts and Kaba Al Shamim, at the Holocaust Memorial Service.

The memorial service, held in South Shields Town Hall included an introduction by Canon John Miller of St Michael’s Church as well as readings, poems and prayers led by Father Michael Weymes, the Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council, Coun Alan Kerr, and Dr Shobha Srivastava.

The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day was ‘The Power of Words’ and reflected the importance of ensuring the stories and experiences of those affected are not lost in time and continue to be passed on to others.

Children from Westoe Crown and Hadrian primary schools also featured in the service where they placed leaves on a special ‘Tree of Life’, with each leaf making a pledge to help ‘keep the memory alive’.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Olive Punchion, said: “It is incredibly important to make sure that people, especially our younger generation, never forget the terrible atrocities committed against humanity.

Never forget the terrible atrocities committed against humanity

Coun Olive Punchion

“Holocaust Memorial Day provides an opportunity for us all to come together to reflect on what happened, to remember the victims and honour all those who survived.

“It also gives us a chance to condemn these horrendous crimes and to use the lessons of the past to challenge racism and victimisation today and in the future.

“Having local school children involved in the ceremony made the event all the more poignant. Our younger generation has a key role to play in helping to keep alive the memories of those lost and ensuring these atrocities are never repeated.”

The ceremony included the lighting of six candles by representatives of the community.

The Holocaust Memorial Service at South Shields Town Hall.

The Holocaust Memorial Service at South Shields Town Hall.

Holocaust Memorial Day is the international day of remembrance for victims of the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and more recent acts of genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Youngsters hang pledges on the Tree of Life.

Youngsters hang pledges on the Tree of Life.