An oak tree has been planted at the University of Worcester as part of a nationwide campaign marking the 80th anniversary of the Association of Jewish Refugees.
The University was selected as one of just 80 UK locations for the 80 Trees for 80 Years project, to honour people and places symbolising the enormous contribution made by Jewish refugees who escaped Nazi Europe.
The tree was planted in a special ceremony attended by Marilyn Thomas, representing the Association of Jewish Refugees, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Mayor of Worcester, the Chairman of Worcestershire County Council, as well as John Bateman OBE, chair of Governors, together with other Governors, Honorary Fellows, the President and leaders of the Students’ Union, students and staff.
The tree was sponsored by the family of three Jewish refugees who came to live in the UK in the 1930s. John Woolf arrived penniless from Germany in 1939, after the Nazis had seized ownership of the family music business. His future wife Rita and her sister, Gaby Low, had already fled to Britain on domestic visas, working as servants throughout the War.
Professor David Green CBE DL, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive at the University, said: “We are honoured to have been chosen as one of the 80 locations around the UK to plant a tree for the 80th anniversary of the Association of Jewish Refugees. We are also very delighted that this special tree planting has been recognised as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy campaign to cover the country in new trees in honour of the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen.
“The University of Worcester was founded after the Second World War to win the peace through education, and we stand as a beacon for hope, education and democracy. This tree will serve as a continual reminder to us all to never let hatred into our lives and to stand together against all forms of racism and discrimination.”
The University was chosen as a location in recognition of its work to educate the next generation of teachers to teach schoolchildren about the Holocaust, which is carried out in close connection with Holocaust survivor and educator, Mindu Hornick MBE, who received an Honorary Doctorate from the University in recognition of her inspiring work.
The City’s MP and England’s Schools Minister, Robin Walker, was prevented by Ministerial duties from participating but sent a message to say that:
“By planting a tree you are giving it a new life and hope for the future. That is, therefore, a perfectly fitting symbol of the Association of Jewish Refugees and the new lives that were enabled as a result of the UK giving sanctuary to those fleeing Nazi Germany.”
“I am proud to come from a country which takes its responsibility to protecting others seriously, something we saw during the 1930s and 40s, and something we can see at work today as UK forces worked to airlift 15,000 Afghans to safety after the fall of Kabul.”
Mr Walker’s message concluded: “I would especially like to thank the University of Worcester for organising the city’s commitment to 80 trees for 80 years. This project is a fitting reminder that our city is a welcoming place for people of all backgrounds, including those of the Jewish faith, who made Worcester their home after facing persecution in Europe."