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The power of words: hundreds unite in Redbridge to mark the Holocaust

PUBLISHED: 13:25 29 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:25 29 January 2018

The Holocaust Memorial Service taking place in Valentines Park. War veteran Leslie Sutton

The Holocaust Memorial Service taking place in Valentines Park. War veteran Leslie Sutton

Archant

In memory of the Holocaust, hundreds of Redbridge residents gathered to reflect on the power of words to both incite hatred and foster unity.

The Holocaust Memorial Service taking place in Valentines Park. Mayor Cllr Linda HuggettThe Holocaust Memorial Service taking place in Valentines Park. Mayor Cllr Linda Huggett

Politicians, councillors, faith groups and schools were among those attending the 18th Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony held in Valentines Park, in Cranbrook Road, on Friday (January 26).

Opening remarks were given by mayor Cllr Linda Huggett followed by a speech on this year’s theme - “the power of words” - by deputy leader Cllr Elaine Norman.

“Words can raise hope courage and faith,“ she said.

“But they can also normalise hatred and extremism.”

The Holocaust Memorial Service taking place in Valentines Park. Rabbi Hyman and Mohamed Omer from the Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery lay a wreath togetherThe Holocaust Memorial Service taking place in Valentines Park. Rabbi Hyman and Mohamed Omer from the Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery lay a wreath together

She added: “How careful are we with the words we regularly use?”

“They can be used to unite people but also can be used to whip up prejudice.”

Stories from survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent atrocities, including the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia, were read aloud by pupils from Christchurch Primary School, Manford Primary School and Wanstead Primary School.

Rabbi Hyman, of Ilford Synagogue, then recited the Jewish Prayer for the Dead in English and Hebrew.

Cllr Huggett laid a wreath upon on the Holocaust Memorial Stone in tribute.

Wreaths were also laid by faith leaders, including Rabbi Hyman and Mohamed Omer, from the Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery.

Clayhall councillor Alan Edward Weinberg has been lead organiser of the ceremony for 16 years.

He said: “We did something different this year where leaders from all three Abrahamic faiths laid the wreath on the memorial.

“That summed up the essence of Redbridge.

“We are a borough where we work and live together.”

Also attending the event was Chingford and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith; Ilford North MP Wes Streeting and Ilford South MP Mike Gapes.

Mr Gapes said: “I think it was really important that we had lots of young people from different schools participating and sharing stories about the Jewish people’s suffering.”

The ceremony concluded with guests reading aloud the statement of commitment for Holocaust Memorial Day - a pledge to ensure the Holocaust retains a “permanent place in our nation’s collective memory.”

Guests then visited Valentines Mansion to see an artwork exhibition by pupils and teachers at Parkhill Junior School, Cleveland Road Primary School and Valentine’s High School.

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