1:43pm Thursday 19th July 2012
It was a delight to be with Arek Hersh during his recent visit to the Lakes School at Troutbeck Bridge (Gazette, July 5, ‘Art with a heart’). It is almost 70 years since he arrived in the Lake District as part of a large group of Jewish children, who were flown here to recuperate after living through years of horror in Eastern Europe.
To see the fun and laughter shared between Arek and the children at Lakes School was a pleasure to witness, and very moving in so many ways.
Staff and pupils heard Arek's story in the morning, and in the afternoon spent time cooking Jewish food, writing music and performing drama stimulated by his visit.
Much is heard about how problematic the youth of today are, but here we had enthused, engaged young people sharing their home-cooked food, their music, and their enthusiasm with Arek and his wife Jean, both of whom I know were pleased by the welcome and energy of the children.
The boys and girls at Lakes School were the same age as Arek and many of the other Jewish child Holocaust survivors who arrived in the Lake District in 1945. To see these children of today welcome Arek into their classrooms, and show him such good humour and respect, caused me to think back to a comment many of the Jewish children have made to me over the years: "In Windermere we were treated with dignity and respect for the first time in many years."
The manner in which the children related to Arek was both a credit to themselves and also to the staff of the Lakes School. It reinforces the special feeling that the Lake District holds in the hearts of our Holocaust Survivors.
Trevor Avery The Lake District Holocaust Project Windermere
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group