An 83 year old retired optician who escaped the Holocaust has been named a Point of Light by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Harry Heber from St John’s Wood came to the UK on the Kindertransport in 1938, since then he has dedicated 17 years to volunteering for World Jewish Relief, creating and overseeing their Optical Programme which has sent over 50,000 pairs of prescription spectacles to people who desperately need them, in more than 15 countries worldwide.
Having been just 7 years old when he escaped, the 83 year old is the latest recipient of a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
Prime Minister David Cameron said that “Harry has been determined to give back to the organisation that saved his life by bringing him to Britain on the Kindertransport 76 years ago. He has selflessly dedicated himself to supporting World Jewish Relief, the organisation that was there for him when he was a child in danger. Thanks to his incredible efforts setting up and running WJR’s Optical Programme, over 50,000 pairs of glasses have reached people in desperate need. I am pleased to honour Harry and his achievements with this Point of Light.”
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) November 25, 2014
Harry became a WJR volunteer in 1997 and set up the WJR Optical Programme, which by the end of 1998 had dispatched 1,000 new pairs of prescription glasses to people who desperately needed them. The number has since grown to 50,000 prescriptions in 15 countries.
The pensioner who still spends two full days a week in the office, thanked the Prime Minister for the recognition. He said that “It is an honour to be recognised by the Prime Minister for my volunteering work with World Jewish Relief. It is the same organisation that saved me from Nazi persecution in 1938 and sending glasses, is my way of giving something back.”
Harry’s MP, Glenda Jackson, also aid tribute, saying that “I was so impressed that my constituent, Harry Heber, is one of those honoured with a Points of Light award. Given his fantastic record with creating prescription glasses for those who are so in need he is more than a point of light- rather a positive sunrise”
The World Jewish Relief chief executive, Paul Anticoni, said that “Harry has been connected to World Jewish Relief almost his entire life. His selfless voluntary commitment to assist others to have the gift of good sight has been an inspiration to us all. There is no more worthy recipient of this fabulous award within our midst.”
Harry is the 162nd winner of the Points of Light award which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA.