Shrewsbury’s Mayor Jane Mackenzie visited Shrewsbury High Prep School to lead a special assembly honouring International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the role her grandfather Alan Overton had played. She explained to children how her grandfather, who lived in Rugby, responded to the government’s call for volunteers to help find homes in Britain for Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Europe, who were in grave danger from the regime. The Mayor’s grandfather was instrumental in gathering support from British families, who paid £50 (£1,000 in today’s money) to bring a child to the UK. The children travelled alone by train across Europe on what became known as the Kindertransport. Alan also set up Little Thorn Lodge to house boys who needed somewhere safe to stay as boys were harder to place than girls.
The Mayor joined children in planting a memorial ornamental cherry tree to which they all tied ribbons and made a wish that children would no longer have to leave their families and travel far away to find safety. Children have been learning about refugees from different periods in history, including WWII and more recently, the Rohingya Muslims being forced out of Myanmar.
The school’s reception teacher Mrs Waterson said the children had all been very keen to see the tree planted: “We’ve been explaining about the significance of the tree and discussing what wishes we might like to make with our ribbons. Kindergarten children took great pride in choosing this cherry and it has pride of place in the school gardens.”