This is my third year as Chair of the HMD planning group. I was one of the original founding members back in 2001 when National Holocaust Memorial Day was first instituted. At that time I was the Religious Education and Citizenship Educational Adviser in the Derby City Children and Young People’s Service. Supporting HMD and the communities that the event seeks to support and recognise was a natural extension to my professional work. Since leaving the council in 2012 my involvement with HMD has been more a labour of love!
It would be more accurate to describe Derby’s response to HMD as a week, rather than a day, of commemoration, education and inspiration. The planning group (made up of approximately 15 volunteers from a diverse number of communities, nationalities and backgrounds) first meets every September to start planning the programme for HMD the following January 27. Our final meeting, at which we reflect on the events of the day/week, is always in February. It surprises many people that to plan events that take place in just one week of the year takes about six months of careful planning! It has been a privilege to learn something of the experience of individuals and communities who have survived and now give witness to the worst that human beings are capable of doing: holocaust, genocide, ethnic cleansing. Despite the context and the history, HMD remains a day of hope and the triumph of the human spirit.