‘NEVER forget’ was the message as crowds gathered in Kendal town centre to mark Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) in South Lakeland for the first time.

The occasion began with a ceremony at the Birdcage, followed by an exhibition and film installation at Kendal Town Hall.

The ceremony was led by South Lakeland District Council’s (SLDC) chairman Coun Evelyn Westwood, who organised the event alongside the Lake District Holocaust Project (LDHP).

Guests, visitors and schoolchildren were invited to leave messages on luggage tags adorning the Birdcage.

Prayers were read by Coun Roger Bingham and former MP and Deputy Pro-Chancellor of Lancaster University Stanley Henig.

In a speech Coun Westwood said: “This is the first time South Lakeland has held such a ceremony but since 2001 these events have taken place across the country at this time of year.

“I think it’s particularly important for us in South Lakeland to remember because this is the only place in Britain that has a specific geographical connection with the Holocaust.”

In 1945 300 child Jewish Holocaust survivors spent several months in Windermere for a period of recuperation after being liberated from concentration camps.

Director of LDHP, Trevor Avery, said: “It is estimated that six million European Jews were killed in the Holocaust including an approximate 1.4million who were children.

“Set against those statistics we can see that each child who arrived in the Lake District was a beacon of hope for the future.”

Following the ceremony there was an opportunity to see an exhibition at Kendal Town Hall focusing on the survivors’ time in the Lakes and a film showing rare archive footage of their journey.