'British Schindler' Holocaust hero honoured

By Robyn Rosen, September 21, 2010

Sir Nicholas Winton, known as the British Schindler after he rescued 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia, has been honoured with the unveiling of a life-size statue of himself.

Sir Nicholas, who is 101, attended the unveiling of the bronze statue, created by sculptor Lydia Karpinska, on the Reading-bound platform at Maidenhead railway station at the weekend.

On the eve of the Second World War, Sir Nicholas began an operation, later known as the Czech Kindertransport, by helping the children escape German-occupied Czechoslovakia and arranging for their safe passage to Britain.

The £20,000 statue depicts Sir Nicholas, who lives in Maidenhead, relaxing on a park bench, reading a book which contains images of the children he saved and the trains used to transport them out of the country to safety.

The unveiling was attended by Home Secretary Theresa May and Windsor resident, Ruth Drahota, who was nine years old when Sir Nicholas rescued her.

She said: “I feel incredibly lucky, not just because Nicky saved my life, but also that I eventually got the opportunity to get to know him as a friend.

“I know I'm not just speaking for myself, but for my whole quite extensive family — whom I wouldn't have if it wasn't for Nicky — when I say that we are all inspired by him.

“Even at the age of 101, he is still the caring, determined and exceptional person he was all those years ago and we all love him for it.”

Local councillor Derek Wilson, who proposed the statue to the council last September, said: “Sir Nicholas has been a life-long hero ever since I heard how he organised transport for 669 Jewish children who faced certain death if they had stayed in their homeland.

“Typical of Sir Nicholas’ modesty, he kept the story to himself for many years but since it became public his heroic efforts on behalf of those young people have been an inspiration to many.

“This statue is the borough's way of paying tribute to a truly great man.”

Last updated: 2:19pm, September 21 2010