Sir Nicholas Winton a true British hero
The man dubbed Britain’s Oskar Schindler has passed away (July 1, 2015) at the age of 106.
During the Second World War he organised eight trains to take 669 unaccompanied children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to safety in London.
He also helped to find foster families for the youngsters once they arrived in England but, in a mark of his incredible humility, did not speak about his astonishing bravery for half a century.
One person can make a difference against the odds
He was rightly honoured in his lifetime including with a knighthood from the Queen and a statue in his home town. But his name and the lesson that one person can make a difference even in the face of overwhelming evil, must live on.
Without Sir Nicholas, hundreds would not have lived and thousands more would not have been born.
As Alf Dubs, one of those saved, wrote in the Guardian: ‘Nicky Winton was truly a special human being. A lesser person might have said: “It’s too difficult, not my problem.” He could easily have walked away but didn’t. I shall miss him dreadfully, as will the hundreds whose lives he saved as well as their children and grandchildren.‘
David Cameron described Sir Nicholas as “a great man” whose humanity must never be forgotten, while broadcaster Esther Rantzen said: ‘Not only did he save a generation of Czech Jewish children from the Holocaust, but he was a visionary who inspired thousands of today’s young people to believe that one person can really make a difference. He was far too modest himself to recognise that he was a tremendous force for good.’
‘Sir Nicholas Winton was an incredible man whose selfless and courageous actions saved 669 children from the Holocaust. Anyone who has heard of him has learnt something about standing up against injustice. He was rightly recognised for his actions during his lifetime and this is a fitting tribute to ensure that his legacy will continue – we are delighted to be working with the Jewish News on this initiative.‘ – Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust
Stamp in his honour
On Change.org there is currently a petition (summer 2015 led by Justin Cohen & Richard Ferrer) for Sir Nicholas to receive a Royal Mail stamp: ‘We can think of few others so deserving of a Royal Mail stamp. Please join the Jewish News in calling for this British hero to be recognised with a special stamp from the Royal Mail. The more support this campaign attracts the better chance we have of succeeding.
‘Sir Nicholas may have shied away from the ‘hero’ tag. For us he was the very definition of the word.‘
The petition run by Change.org has been successful. See updates below.
24 Aug 2015 — Royal Mail update
Now we have consulted with his family, we are delighted to confirm our intention to feature Sir Nicholas on a stamp as part of a commemorative set, subject to the appropriate approvals, in 2016. The details will be confirmed in due course.
One of the purposes of Royal Mail stamps is to honour those who have made important contributions to the UK, and every year we consider hundreds of subjects for inclusion. It is clear that Sir Nicholas Winton is a worthy candidate.
6 Aug 2015 – Jewish News
Campaign to honour Sir Nicholas Winton with stamp passes 85,000 signatures
The Czech?Republic’s postal service has announced a special stamp to honour Sir Nicholas Winton as Jewish News’ campaign for a similar honour in the UK topped 85,000 supporters..
3 Aug 2015 – Royal Mail response
‘It is great to see so many people taking an interest in our Special Stamp programme.
‘One of the purposes of Royal Mail stamps is to honour those who have made important contributions to the UK, and every year we consider hundreds of subjects for inclusion. It is clear that Sir Nicholas Winton is a worthy candidate.
‘Much of our stamp programme is agreed more than two years in advance and there is a fairly lengthy process for approving who (or what) we celebrate. Royal Mail collates all the subjects and then carries out careful and extensive research to arrive at the final list of stamp subjects. The proposals have to pass through several committees before we arrive at the final list. And finally, all stamps must be approved by Her Majesty the Queen.
‘It is clear that there is a strong desire to see Sir Nicholas Winton honoured on a stamp. Given the time frames we work to, it is unlikely he would feature on a stamp in 2016, but do be assured that his name will be put forward for consideration in a stamp issue beyond then.’