Holocaust Memorial Day service in Peterborough

St John's Church in St John's Square, Peterborough city centre at dusk. Photo: Paul Franks
St John's Church in St John's Square, Peterborough city centre at dusk. Photo: Paul Franks
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A short service to mark Holocaust Memorial Day will take place in Peterborough city centre today, Tuesday, 27 January.

Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration:

11.40am: drama club students from St John Fisher Catholic High School will stage a performance in the Guildhall in Cathedral Square.

11.50am: the Mayor of Peterborough, Councillor David Over, will lead a procession from the Town Hall to St John’s Church for the service, pausing at Cathedral Square to watch the drama performance.

12 noon: on arrival at the church, the service will begin with a welcome address from Reverend Canon Ian Black, Vicar of St John’s Church, followed by the reading of ‘What is Man?’ by Chuck Salamon of the Hebrew Congregation.

Contributions will then continue from students from St John Fisher Catholic High School, Brian Gascoyne, Chairman of the Holocaust Memorial Day Committee and representatives from various communities. Bryan Tyler from the Peterborough Disability Forum will read a piece about Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a German-born British neurologist who established the Paralympic Games in England. His son, Dr Dennis Guttmann, lives locally.

Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann, who fled Nazi Germany just before the start of the Second World War, established the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire in 1944. He believed that sport was a major method of therapy for injured military personnel helping them build up physical strength and self-respect and his work was pioneering for those with spinal injuries.

In addition, the service will include a contribution by Jane Hogg, on behalf of the British Red Cross, followed by a poem by the Poet Laureate for Peterborough, Peter Irving.

On behalf of the Liberal Jewish Community, Elisabeth Walker will read a piece based on the journeys of Holocaust survivors, followed by a reading from Dr Dennis Guttmann.

The Mayor will give his address before the service concludes with the laying of a wreath at the Holocaust memorial in St John’s Square.

During the laying of the wreath, Chuck Salamon will read the Memorial Prayer for the victims of the Holocaust and Mourner’s Kaddish in Hebrew, before Reverend Canon Ian Black offers the closing prayers.

After the ceremony, light refreshments will be served in St John’s Church.

The Mayor of Peterborough Councillor Over said: “It is so important that the city continues to join with the rest of the world in marking such an important day. The events taking place in Peterborough will give us all a chance to remember the victims of the Holocaust and other genocides. We must never forget these atrocities and the people that were killed and must continue to share their stories with generations to come.”

Brian Gascoyne, Chairman of the Holocaust Memorial Day Committee, said: “Holocaust Memorial Day encourages a real togetherness across Peterborough with support from school pupils, members of community and faith groups, representatives from the city council and the wider community.

“I am particularly pleased that this year’s event includes a reading about Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann. The contribution that this one man made was immeasurable, changing the course of thousands of people’s lives. He saved the lives of many Jewish people by keeping them in hospital as long as possible, and his pioneering treatment of hundreds of people with severed spinal cords, many of them as a result of the war, gave so many people hope and a quality of life that they never imagined they could have.

“I would encourage people to come along to the memorial day events to reflect and make their own commitment to helping end persecution within our own communities.”

Related: 2014 remembrance day in Peterborough - video and photos

More about Holocaust Memorial Day.