Woodside Primary School children commemorate Anne Frank’s 90th birthday
Children on the School Council at Woodside Primary School in Oswestry joined local Shropshire Councillor Vince Hunt, Imam Sohayb Peerbhai and Reverend Harvey Gibbons in a commemorative service to mark the 90th birthday of Anne Frank, on 12 June 2019.
Councillor Hunt talked about the 2019 Holocaust Memorial Day theme of “Torn from Home”, and the Imam talked about how we collectively support Syrian refugee families in Shropshire.
The tree was planted in 2016 as part of the Council’s efforts to work with schools and representatives of world faiths to grow a cherry tree orchard of remembrance across Shropshire.
The children shared what they had learnt about Anne Frank from reading her story, and the Holocaust Candle was lit whilst Reverend Harvey Gibbons said a special prayer. The candle has three wicks to indicate the world faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, place planning and regulatory services, said:
“I was delighted to hear that the tree is now nine feet tall and bearing cherries. The children at Woodside School are clearly looking after it very well. I know that Councillor Vince Hunt will agree that it is so encouraging to know that the story of the Holocaust and the dreadful plight which so many millions of people suffered in World War Two will not be forgotten – at least not by the next generation growing up at Woodside. Councillor Hunt and I are very pleased that Woodside is one of the schools where these trees will flower and bear fruit in the years to come, as we grow our cherry tree orchard together across Shropshire.”
Vince Hunt, Shropshire Councillor for Oswestry West, said:
“I found it a very moving way to mark not only Holocaust Memorial Day 2019 but also Anne Frank’s birthday. It was a pleasure and a privilege to talk with the School Council and hear from them, and I am truly heartened by their understanding about the tree and what it represents. I am in the fortunate position of being able to keep an eye on the tree in my visits to the school, and I will continue to do so.
“Imam Sohayb Peerbhai from the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum also said that he echoed these sentiments, and that it was lovely to meet the children and have opportunity to talk to them about how we collectively support Syrian refugee families in Shropshire, showing empathy with the 2019 theme of “Torn from Home”. I am quite sure that Reverend Harvey Gibbons would also concur, and that we all feel that the Woodside tree is in kind and caring hands.
“I can only repeat the words of Anne Frank on the plaque at the tree: ‘How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single minute before starting to improve the world’.”
The background here is that the council is continuing efforts to grow a cherry tree orchard of remembrance across Shropshire, working with primary and secondary schools and inter faith forums and local Shropshire Councillors. We identify a primary school each year, and are seeking to spread the orchard across the county.
The orchard had a growth spurt in 2016, when we were also able to provide for five secondary schools to have trees as well, through the Incredible Edible project running that year. Having begun in the centre in 2015, with Mereside C of E School, we have planted in the north at Woodside Academy in Oswestry, and in the south at Bishop Hooper School in Ashford Carbonell, where a second tree, kindly donated by the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum, had to be planted in 2018 after rabbits ate the first one. The tree for the centre and west of the county was planted at Trinity CofE in Ford in 2018.
This year’s tree was planted at St Peter’s CofE School in Wem, representing the north and east of the county. Next year, a school in the south and west will be chosen, as the council continues efforts to grow an orchard that will eventually cover all points of the compass.
We linked the HMD 2019 theme with the support given in Shropshire to Syrian refugee families making their homes here. The council utilised resources from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust alongside resources developed by Mereside CofE Primary School, including a reading list. All schools were sent details of the resources and the annual theme.
The events were supported by local Jewish author Natalie Cumming, who has written a book called “The Fiddle”, about her family violin. Her aunt Rosa played the violin in three concentration camps (Mauthausen, Auschwitz and Belsen) and was part of the women’s orchestra in each camp. The violin was returned to her after being taken away on her arrival in Auschwitz. Violin maker/restorer John Dilworth restored the violin for a BBC programme The Repair Shop. It has now been donated in perpetuity in memory of her aunt and her father to the Yehudi Menuhin school. The well-known violinist, Chris Garrick, composed a piece especially for the programme called Rosa’s Wishing Waltz.
The Priory School in Shrewsbury, which was one of the five secondary schools that had planted a cherry tree from Shropshire Council in 2016, were also able to organise a visit from Mrs Cumming, with support from Councillor Nic Laurens.
The school is hosting an exhibition of cross curricular work by the students since the visit from Mrs Cumming, comprising music, art and writing. This was opened with a talk by the students to Mrs Cumming and to members of the interfaith forums, on Friday 5 July 2019. It then remains open until the end of the school term. This mark completion of events in Shropshire for HMD 2019.
For more information, please see resources on the HMD Trust website at www.hmd.org.uk