How a street cleaner gave a family back its memories

Photo albums feared lost were returned after being found in a rubbish bin.


By Jessica Elgot, December 23, 2010
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Mamie’s elder son Prof Alan Shenkin, wife Leonna and daughters Susie and Trudi

Mamie’s elder son Prof Alan Shenkin, wife Leonna and daughters Susie and Trudi

Five family albums dumped in a rubbish bin in Western Scotland have been returned to a delighted family - who now live in Israel.

The photos, which include the wedding and barmitzvah pictures of the Shenkin family, were found in Ardrishaig, Argyllshire, around 90 miles from Glasgow, and traced back to relative, Yaron Soifer, whose mother is originally from Glasgow.

Tel Aviv businessman Mr Soifer hopes to receive the photos in time for his mother Lorna's 70th birthday on New Year's Eve - but snow may prevent the albums reaching Israel in time.

The albums might have been lost forever had it not been for a street cleaner discovering them and handing them in to the local police station.

Lorna and Zvi Soifer

Lorna and Zvi Soifer

Inspector Neil Wallace alerted the local newspaper. STV reporter Karen Greenshields then ran an appeal on Scottish Television to track down the owners. Mr Soifer's relative Pamela Freedman, 60, recognised her late aunt Mamie Shenkin in the photos and contacted Mr Soifer in Israel.

He is Mrs Shenkin's grandson. His mother, Lorna Soifer, née Shenkin, made aliyah as a young woman and married an American.

Mrs Shenkin, the grande dame of Glasgow Jewry, died last year aged 93, and the albums were lost while sorting through her belongings. Her family lives in Liverpool, Israel and America.

Ms Freedman said: "It was quite a shock at first. A friend saw pictures of my family on TV but the sound was down. She thought we'd been in an accident or something.

"I watched the report online and it was really lovely, so touching to see that someone cared that the albums were returned.

"It's very strange they ended up in Argyllshire. The family went on a little holiday around Scotland after Mamie's stonesetting this summer, so they might have been lost then.

"Mamie Shenkin was an amazing lady. She was very well-known and had fantastic energy.

"I spoke to my cousin Lorna when the photos were found and she was overjoyed. I haven't held the albums in my hands yet but I'll be having a really good look through - and copying a few pictures for my collection."

Mr Soifer, who is a vice-president of marketing and sales for a finance company, said all the family's history was in the five albums.

He said: "We looked for those albums over and over and did not find them anywhere. This is a great gift to my family, a wonderful deed."

    Last updated: 12:47pm, December 23 2010