There are very few people in the Jewish community whose birthday could attract the kind of response this newspaper had when we asked: “Would you like to sign Sir Ben Helfgott’s birthday card?” Just a glance at the names shows the level of respect.
From the world of politics: four past prime ministers, the current prime minister, Scotland’s first minister and the leader of the two other main political parties. From the world of arts and literature: two of this country’s most successful authors and an award-winning scriptwriter. From the world of religion, the most influential leaders in England.
From the world of sport, the heads of the nation’s top sporting bodies. From the world of entertainment, the biggest names from television and radio. From the world of philanthropy, some of the biggest givers in the land. From the community: three presidents of the Board of Deputies, the heads of every major communal organisation, several Jewish peers and, of course, most important of all: fellow survivors, Holocaust educators, and the next generation, who are still learning about what people such as Ben went through, in the hope that it won’t ever happen again.
There are very few people in the Jewish community – any community – whose birthday could attract the kind of response we had, because there are very few people alive today who lived through what he did, and who subsequently did so much good for so many people.
Ben turns 90 on Friday. May he live to 120.
— Richard Ferrer ???? (@richferrer) November 22, 2019