Theresa May has led political and religious leaders in welcoming the introduction of a special stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton – and applauding the Jewish News campaign that led to it.
The stamp is issued today after more than 105,000 people backed our call for the rare tribute for the man dubbed ‘Britain’s Schindler’ for arranging the rescue from the Nazis of 669 unaccompanied children and later organising foster families for many of the youngsters.
The featured black and white image – part of a set of six featuring British humanitarians – was taken in 2014 when Sir Nicholas collected the Czech Republic’s highest accolade in Prague, two years before he passed away.
- OPINION David Gold, Royal Mail: We worked with Nicky’s family to convey his emotion, strength and courage
Expressing “delight” at the stamp’s release, May, the MP for Maidenhead where Sir Nicholas lived, said: “Our town is rightly proud of all that he did.” The home secretary told the Jewish News: “He was an enduring example of the difference that good people can make even in the darkest of times, and it would be hard to think of anybody more deserving of this honour. I congratulate Jewish News and all those who helped support this.”
While it usually takes at least two years to consider and produce special stamps from the hundreds of suggestions received annually, Royal Mail bosses expedited the process after our petition attracted support from around the globe, at one point trending on change.org.
Barbara Winton, Sir Nicholas’ daughter, said: “He never felt that his actions were anything more than anyone else would have done had they witnessed the suffering he saw in the refugee camps in Czechoslovakia in 1939. I am sure he would have felt that he did not belong in such distinguished company. Nevertheless we think that marking his and the other volunteers’ achievements is wonderful.”
The initiative was supported by the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Association of Jewish Refugees and Sir Mick Davis, who chaired David Cameron’s Holocaust Commission. The Chief Rabbi, Sir Eric Pickles and fellow politicians Mike Freer and Ian Austin backed the campaign as part of efforts to ensure the memory of the Holocaust hero’s actions and the lessons they offer last for future generations.
“There is no one more appropriate to be honoured in this way,” said Sir Eric. “Like many Sir Nicholas saw the Nazis for the evil they were, but what set him apart was that he wasn’t prepared to accept it, and ultimately he helped save 669 lives.”
Former Prime minister Gordon Brown and House of Commons Speaker John Bercow are among those hailing the release today.
Lord Alf Dubs, one of the hundreds of youngsters rescued by Sir Nicholas, described the honour as “wonderful”, adding: “He deserves widespread commemoration for the many lives he saved, mine included. My thanks to the Jewish News, the Holocaust Educational Trust and others who campaigned for the stamp, and to Royal Mail for doing it.”
HET chief executive Karen Pollock said Sir Nicholas – who didn’t speak of his work for half a century when he was reunited with many of those he saved on TV show That’s Life – “was a true hero of our time – huge congratulations to the Jewish News for launching this initiative and thank you to the Royal Mail for recognising this remarkable man in such a special way.”
“We have supported this campaign from the outset and are thrilled that this commemorative stamp is now available for everyone to purchase and spread the story of Sir Nicholas’s extraordinary selflessness far and wide.”
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “This is a remarkable way to recognise a remarkable man. Sir Nicholas Winton’s true legacy will exist for all time in the generations descended from the hundreds of lives he saved and this is a wonderful way for us to celebrate his exceptional heroism.”
Among the others honoured are philanthropist Joseph Rowntree, who championed social reform and workers welfare and Sue Ryder, who founded homes in the UK and Europe for those in need. The legacy of both humanitarians live on through charities in their name.
“Sir Nicholas Winton was a true British hero. It was a great privilege to know him and in 2010 to be able to present him with a British Hero of the Holocaust award in recognition of what he and others did to save so many lives during the darkest of times. I am delighted the Royal Mail has chosen to honour him and that his legacy lives on for generations to come through the work of organisations such as the Holocaust Educational Trust”
John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons
“Sir Nicholas Winton was one of the most courageous men of our times. A debt of gratitude is owed by everyone who aspires to a world where such brutality is confined to the history books, and not still a fact of life. I am delighted the Royal Mail have chosen to commemorate him in this way: it is a fitting tribute to a man of such immense bravery and inexhaustible compassion.”
Alan Johnson MP:
“As a former postman, I am delighted that the Royal Mail have recognised Sir Nicholas Winton and his heroic actions in this way. He was a remarkable man and we must never forget brave individuals like him who took a stand in the most difficult of circumstances.”
Dan Jarvis MP:
“I am delighted that, following the campaign by the Jewish News and the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Royal Mail are commemorating his actions. This is a worthy tribute and I want to thank the more than 105,000 people who supported the campaign. Sir Nicholas should be an inspiration to all of us. He is a shining example that when the ideologies of injustice and hate rear their ugly heads, there is always a contribution we can make in the fight against them.”
Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation:
‘Royal Mail’s recognition of Sir Nicholas Winton as one of the Great Britons of our time is a fitting tribute and celebration of his work enabling hundreds of children to escape the Nazi’s.
“As part of our urgent testimony project, we’ve heard many inspiring stories from people who owe their lives to him and have been able to build new lives in Britain thanks to his actions.”
The stamps are available in post offices nationwide and online http://www.royalmail.com/humanitarians?iid=PROMO_H1_HUMANITARIANS