Thursday, 9 February 2017

Southport's Holocaust Memorial service

The Holocaust Memorial service, presided over by Michael Braham, was one of the most compelling and powerful remembrances for the victims of genocide held in our town.

Young people from the VIth Form Colleges at KGV and Runshaw joined the pupils of St John's Ainsdale in reminding us of the enormous human cost of the holocaust. They told the stories of individual victims, those who had died and those who lived on after the war. Their thoroughly researched presentations had a great emotional impact.

Their contributions were followed by the Imam of Southport Mosque Soyful Alam. The packed congregation, in Christ Church on Lord St, had listened in respectful silence to the young people and to Michael Braham talk about the events that took place in the death camps of Nazi Germany and of the plight of refugees -especially the children- who came to this country and our town. The history they related addressed the theme of the service; how after the genocide can life go on.

pupils from St John's Ainsdale re enact a scene where children disembark from the kindertransport

Into the silence stepped Soyful to take his place behind the lectern. His powerful address confronted the continuing use of genocide in the world today. He spoke of his despair and our failure to learn the lessons of the holocaust. The world stands aside and fails to act. It is hard to find hope when night after night we see images of genocide and we know how many hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. Soyful warned this failure to act undermines our common humanity and the bonds that should link us all together.

Such was the impact of Soyful's address that the congregation broke in spontaneous and prolonged applause and in the tea room after the service it was the main topic of conversation.

Peter Dowd MP's was unable to attend the service and I was asked to say a few words. As world events are played out and once again the warping influence of nationalism and populist politicians threaten the peace and stability of our world it is more important than assert our values. One of my responsibilities as Mayor is to preside over Citizenship ceremonies during which we declare our allegiance to the British values of respect and tolerance. We must fight intolerance and prejudice wherever we encounter it. The Holocaust was an indescribable atrocity, and we must never forget the victims of this evil and those other acts of genocide that continue to this day. The work of Holocaust Memorial Day keeps alive the memory of those who died and those who survived.  We own a great debt to those who dedicate themselves to educating the public. One such person is Pauline Collier (pictured above with the pupils of St John's), who is a Fellow at the Imperial War Museum. She has been central to the success of the Southport Holocaust Memorial service as long as I can remember. Thanks to her and those who work alongside her the next generation have been taught about the terrible event that took place.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

My Midweek Visiter column- first week in February

Spontaneous applause broke out during the Holocaust Memorial service in Southport last week after the Imam of Southport Mosque, Soyful Alam, had spoken. There were extraordinarily powerful and moving presentations during the afternoon including one from Rabbi Ariel Abel who told the congregation that he had recently discovered the details of how the genocide had directly impacted on his family.

Soyful Alam spoke of his despair at our failure to learn the lessons of the holocaust. The world stands aside and fails to act. It is hard to find hope when night after night we see images of genocide and we know how many hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed. Soyful warned this failure to act undermines our common humanity and the bonds that should link us all together.

Pupils from St John’s Ainsdale working with their teacher Sarah Myers and Pauline Collier-a fellow of the Imperial War Museum- acted out a drama exploring the concerns of children who escaped to Britain during the last war through the kindertransport scheme. They were followed by students from KGV and Runshaw VIth Form Colleges who had researched the plight of individual victims of the holocaust after a recent visit to Auschwitz.
The Holocaust memorial came at the end of a busy week. I attended Chinese New Year Celebrations with the Chinese Government’s NW Consul, cut the 10th birthday cake at the party for the Formby Swimming Pool, cut a ribbon tied over a new park bench to mark the 50th Anniversary of Formby Rotary and attended Diana Beldam’s 100th Birthday tea party in Southport. There are lots of pictures and information on the Mayoral Blog
Crosby Scouts held a Burn’s Night Supper at Sacred Heart School. I have been very impressed by the work of local scouts. Having seen them in action I fully understand why more and more young people are opting to join up. The Explorer Scouts in Crosby put on a great night and raise money for their chosen charities.
In the Mayor’s office we are gearing up for the Annual Charity Ball that will be held in Southport on 1st of April this year. All the proceeds will go to local charities. It promises to be a great night. If you would like to come along and support this event drop me a line at Southport or Bootle Town Hall. I will announce further details shortly.

Friday, 3 February 2017

A Brilliant Burns Night Supper with Crosby Scouts

Crosby Scouts certainly know how to through a party. They held a brilliant fundraiser for Burn's Night complete with haggis, piper, dance band and more tartan on display than will be evident at Murrayfield this weekend.

I was greatly impressed by the contribution the Explorer Scouts made. Not only did they throw themselves enthusiastically into the dancing but the quietly and efficiently served the food and washed up afterwards.
The local Alsop drama group told the story of Robbie Burn's -which was clearly a revelation to some sassanachs it followed by a Ceilidh . The event was held at Sacred Heart School and the Head Teacher Andrew Walker and his wife were guests of honour.

100th Birthday Tea Party for Diana Beldam

 I was delighted to be invited to Diana Beldam's 100th Afternoon Tea Party at the Soroptimist House in Southport. There was a great turnout and the members laid on a memorable spread to mark the occasion.
Diana was very proud of her birthday card from the Queen which had pride of place on the mantelpiece along side a host of others.
I asked Diana what the first thing she could remember. She recalled being picked up by her Father and being shown a Zepplin as it flew over her Yorkshire home. Zepplin's began commercial flights in 1910 and during WW1 over 500 people were killed in air raids-although I doubt any got as far north as Yorkshire.
Also at the Tea Party were representatives of Crosby Housing who have a partnership with Southport Soroptimists

Chair of SSHA and Mandy Elliot from Crosby Housing

'Opening' a bench in Formby to mark 50 years of Formby Rotary

As Mayor I have been called upon to open all manner of things this year. But there was a first on my recent visit to Formby Library when I was asked by Formby Rotary to cut the ribbon on a new park bench to mark the clubs 50th Anniversary. Over that period the Rotarians have raised several hundred thousand pounds for good causes locally and internationally. Local residents will know them for the Christmas Carol Wagon. Speaking to members they have some exciting plans for the half-century celebrations.

Whilst in the Library I met with local voluntary sector groups who had stalls including the Alzheimer Society and The Stroke Association