Holocaust Memorial Day was commemorated in a poignant ceremony that brought together a Norfolk village care home and a school in Holland.
Residents at Thorp House, in Griston, near Watton, had worked with pupils at the local Caston and Thompson primary schools to make “stumbling stones” which are laid in Holland to commemorate Jewish families killed by the Nazis.
The stones were unveiled at yesterday’s ceremony outside the home and will be laid in a patio at the Kingsley Healthcare home as a permanent memorial.
The idea was inspired by teacher Lorraine Mead, who works at an international school in The Hague.
She has a deep interest in the Second World War sparked by her grandparents’ experiences and reached out through the Postcards of Kindness Facebook page to find veterans in the UK.
Thorp House’s wellbeing coordinator Marcia Hughes contacted her and introduced her to 101-year-old resident John Lister, a Normandy veteran.
Skype calls followed as Mrs Mead was eager to share John’s wartime story with her students.
Mrs Hughes said: “Lorraine told us how commemorative stumbling stones or ‘strekelstenen’ are laid to mark the place Jewish families had lived and that inspired our idea.
“Although John sadly passed away after Christmas we decided to press ahead with the ceremony which was a tribute to him too. We planted a Christmas tree in his memory.
“The tree was among the hundreds of gifts and tens of thousands of cards John received after he was interviewed on ITV and BBC Breakfast before Christmas.
“The cards and gifts kept arriving even after his death. There have been cards from Boris Johnson and Captain Sir Tom Moore and a gift from the Princess Royal. John would have been so proud.”
Mrs Mead joined the ceremony via a FaceTime call and talked to residents Neil Cordell, 85, and 95-year-old former Land Army girl Beryl Prothero.
Mr Cordell recalled his childhood memory of seeing a neighbour’s house bombed in Lincoln and watching a German plane flying near the cathedral.
Caston Primary School teacher Ami Reynolds said: “The opportunity to create the stone gave us a chance to learn about those who had been victims of the war.
We were able to remember those who died and help create a memory in their honour.”
Linda May, a teacher at Thompson Primary school, said: “The children have forged strong connections with Thorp House. They have previously enjoyed listening to first-hand experiences of the residents who fought and lived through the wars.
"We can’t wait to be allowed to come back and visit - the children gain so much from our visits."
Author: Stephen Pullinger