Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day, which this year has added poignancy as it marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It’s been extremely moving to watch media coverage of the memorial services and hear the stories of those who faced the horrors of that place. It’s vitally important that the events of 70 years ago are not forgotten as the years pass, and that’s why I support the programme that has seen a number of Swindon schools organise trips to Auschwitz for our younger generation. We must not just remember, but learn lessons from history to prevent it being repeated in our lifetimes.
Sadly, anti-Semitism is still a challenge we are faced with today. The events in Paris earlier this month showed this very starkly, when one of the terrorists’ targets was a supermarket serving the Jewish community. Anti-Semitic activity has also been on the rise in other parts of Europe, although mercifully there is no evidence of it here. We are lucky in Swindon, and the UK as a whole, that we live in a tolerant society where people of different faiths and backgrounds live peacefully side by side. However the events of 70 years ago and their echoes in modern-day Europe mean we must never be complacent, and we must never forget. Only by remembering the horrors of the past can we ensure they are never repeated in the future.
Moving on to another issue, and I’d like to mention again an important event this Friday. I’m delighted to be hosting a Dementia Friends Awareness session in association with the Alzheimer’s Society. The idea of the campaign is to promote the small, everyday things we can all do that could make a difference to people living with dementia in our community. It helps us all understand what it might be like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action. The event is at the Wyvern Theatre from 1 to 2pm and is free. Attendance needed to be confirmed in advance, however if you are an individual or group with a particular interest, please contact the office and we will be able to advise if there are any remaining spaces.
Finally, the Wyvern Theatre is also the venue for my surgery this week. It’s from 1100 to 1200 on Friday. No appointment is necessary and I will try and see everyone who comes. If you have a complex or long-running case, it is a good idea to contact the office first, as it may be more appropriate to deal with it in another way rather than at the surgery when time is limited. The number is 01793 533393.
(This article was originally posted in the Swindon Advertiser on 28th January 2015)