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.
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 a host of other politicians 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.”
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.