24/01/2022 - Permalink

Holocaust Memorial Day cherry tree planting at school remembrance ceremony  

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A special Holocaust Memorial Day cherry tree will be planted at Sheriffhales Primary School on Thursday 27 January 2022 at 10.45am as part of an interfaith ceremony of remembrance.

Each year, we choose a different primary school in a different location of the county, with whose children we plant a new cherry tree, and talk about the national theme for that year. This year’s theme is “One Day”.

Cecilia Motley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, culture, leisure and tourism, and transport, said:-

“I am delighted to see that this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day cherry tree is being planted at Sheriffhales, one of our rural schools. Our approach towards commemorating the Holocaust and other genocides is very much about messages of hope and peace, that will grow through the children of the county, and through the planting with them of a memorial cherry tree orchard of remembrance across our county.

“The 2022 tree will be the 15th tree in our orchard. I am quite sure that it will be looked after and cared for by the children of Sheriffhales just as much as the very first tree, planted seven years ago, continues to be cared for by the children of Mereside in Shrewsbury.”

The council began planting the orchard with a first cherry tree at Mereside School in Shrewsbury in 2015. There, the annual ceremony of remembrance, where the tree is measured, is tomorrow (Tuesday 25 January 2022) at 10.30am. The tree is just outside the school near a playground, and the children of the school take great pride in looking after it.

Shropshire Councillors and council officers are supporting both events, in liaison with representatives from the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum, the Shrewsbury Interfaith Forum, and the Diocese of Hereford.

Holocaust Memorial Day candle

Holocaust Memorial Day candle

Further information

The HMD Theme: “One Day”

Holocaust Memorial Day is One Day – 27 January – that we put aside to come together to remember, to learn about the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, in the hope that there may be  One Day  in the future with no genocide. We learn more about the past, we empathise with others today, and we take action for a better future.

In Shropshire, this could be One Day in history, to learn about through resources, including those available at Shropshire Archives. For us, 15 April 1945 is a key date, as it marks the liberation by British troops, including those from Shropshire, of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

The background

The orchard

Collectively, the cherry trees planted each year contribute to the countywide orchard. Since 2015 trees have now been planted across all four quadrants of Shropshire. The 15th tree will be planted in the far east of the county.

Why trees?

Secondary schools study the Holocaust and other genocides; primary school children do not. And yet if we can get these children to think about the messages of the Holocaust, in ways that are age appropriate, they can take this understanding with them as they grow.

And what could be simpler to understand, in some ways, than the planting of a tree, with all the messages of memory, nurture, resilience and endurance that this brings?

And what could be better than to plant a tree in a different location in the county every year, covering every quadrant, and growing an orchard of remembrance?

The ceremonies

The local vicar in each location delivers the Shropshire prayer, which is also said at the Mereside tree by Reverend Ken Chippindale or by another representative of the Shrewsbury Interfaith Forum.

Mark Michaels and Imam Sohayb Peerbhai from the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum share their perspectives on the theme for the year, and the local Shropshire Councillor or council council officer helps with the planting and with the lighting of a candle.

Our supporters

Each year, as the orchard grows, we continue to gain from the support of the interfaith forums and from Mereside as our first school.

We are also pleased to add Shropshire Archives to our grouping of active supporters. They helped us with an online archive resource with regard to the local Armed Forces and their liberation of Bergen-Belsen, and also found the following information about local support for Jewish children during World War II.

Online resources and gallery

  • A document file containing the minutes of the Mayor of Shrewsbury’s Committee for Jewish Refugee Children, detailing support and fundraising activities.
  • Records relating to Bunce Court School for German Jewish refugee children, at what is now Trench Hall, near  We have pictures of the founder Anna Essinger and her two sisters; another of the cook, Gretl Heidt; and another of the children, playing safe from harm. The photo of the three sisters shows (left to right) Bertha Kahn, Paula Essinger and Anna Essinger.
  • Further documents talking about Anna Essinger’s experiences in Germany, and the setting up and running of the school during the war years. The school was evacuated from Kent to Trench Hall as a safe location during the war.

The minutes from the Mayor of Shrewsbury’s committee are written in the copperplate writing style of the time, with pages reproduced in the online gallery as an example.

Shropshire Archives would be happy to assist anyone wishing to know more about these efforts, which may be seen very much as a forerunner to the support given by communities across the county to help Syrian refugee families to settle here in the present day. Please contact them at archives@shropshire.gov.uk

There is also a blog section, through which to find more details, at:-