Camp Simcha CEO Neville Goldschneider will be walking the 72km route across the Pyrenees, travelled by men, women and children attempting the flee the Nazis during World War Two – to raise money for Camp Simcha’s work supporting families coping with serious childhood illness.
Taking place between 16-21 July, he will be following in the footsteps of his late father-in-law, Joseph Segal, in trekking across Coastal Freedom Trail.
Neville said: “This challenge struck a chord with me. It was the escape route my wife’s father successfully took, aged just 14 in 1942. Sadly, my father-in-law passed away three years ago, but his bravery and endurance in the most extreme and gravest of circumstances has inspired me to do this challenge in his memory.
“It seems fitting that it will raise money to support Camp Simcha families who also endure so much and inspire us all with their bravery in the toughest of circumstances.”
Joseph was born to Polish parents in Cologne, in 1928. The family managed to escape to France when the Germans started expelling the Polish Jews, but years later when life in France became too dangerous, they made the night-time crossing from Luchon over the Pyrenees to Spain.
Neville added: “A group of them walked across the Pyrenees, dodging the Germans with their dogs but as they came down the mountain in Spain, the Spanish police were waiting for them, with orders to transfer them back to France that day with dire potential consequences. Detained at the police station, the group decided to escape by jumping out of a top floor window and agreed to meet up at a hut they could see in the mountains.
“When they reached the hut Joseph’s mother was missing. Joseph’s father was about to give himself up when they saw a stranger on the mountain. Joseph told them what had happened and amazingly, the man, who had fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War, risked his life to get Joseph’s mother. He found her and the family made their escape towards Barcelona.”
Once they got to Barcelona, the American Joint looked after the family. Joseph’s mother had a sister in England so he and Max left their parents in Barcelona to travel to Lisbon and then on the UK.
Neville explained: “Just after they boarded their plane bound for England, a steward came and told them they would have to take the next plane because their seats were being taken by a VIP. That same plane, which they had to vacate, was shot down by the Germans – with no survivors. Miraculously Joseph and Max made it safely to the UK and their parents followed sometime later.
“When we decided the Freedom Trail would be this year’s Camp Simcha overseas challenge, I knew I had to take part in my father-in-law’s memory. Without his bravery my life wouldn’t be what it is today.”
You can sponsor Neville’s Freedom Trail at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/NevilleGoldschneider If you are interested in taking part in the Camp Simcha Freedom Trail Challenge call 020 8202 9297 or email firstname.lastname@example.org