One of our Governors, Kinga Grzeczynska, who many of you will know, asked me earlier in the year if we would like her to offer our school as a site for the planting of a commemorative native oak tree by the Association of Jewish Refugees. It was therefore an honour and a privilege for our school to learn that we had been be selected as one of those eighty sites. The simple, but meaningful, tree planting ceremony took place on Monday this week.

Our Y6 class were joined by: the Mayor of Chorley, Councillor Steve Holgate, the Mayoress, Emma Adlam, the Leader of Chorley Borough Council, Councillor Alistair Bradley, Fr. Crowther and Jane Gilbertson from St Joseph’s Withnell, Sara Dietz from the AJR along with school governors, Kath Smith, Margaret Rogerson and Kinga Grzeczynska. Kinga and a Y6 pupil, George, planted the tree, while other members of the class read some passages as part of the ceremony. We thank all our guests for their time on what proved to be a very chilly but poignant November morning.

70 000 Jewish people including 10 000 children escaped Nazi Europe to seek refuge in the United Kingdom immediately prior to and during the war years. A number came to Lancashire. The planting of the tree serves a few purposes. It serves to remind us of the horror of the Holocaust and the need for us to teach the children about the evils of discrimination in its various forms including anti-Semitism and the need for us all to stand up against it.

It serves as a reminder of those children and families who arrived in the UK, in many cases, with nothing but clothes they were wearing, who over the last eighty years have made such a positive contribution to British society.

The planting of the tree also forms part of the ‘Plant a tree for the Jubilee’ programme to mark the Platinum Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth. Our tree was sponsored by Mrs Sue Neale and is in memoriam of Frederika Rosmarin who arrived in the UK in 1938 from Austria.