A 90-year-old Holocaust survivor has received an unsung hero award from Jewish Care.
Richard Fisher was honoured at a business lunch at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair, which was attended by 700 guests and addressed by London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Vienna-born Mr Fisher’s parents died in the Holocaust. He survived seven years in the coal and salt mines of Siberia — and some difficult times after being freed. He attempted to travel to England on several occasions before finally gaining entry in 1951.
He made his career in the fur trade, also setting up a luggage and leather goods business. After retiring 20 years ago, he began volunteering for Jewish Care, finding financial assistance for those in need. He is additionally president of B’nai B’rith Leo Baeck Lodge Trust, which helps students, the sick and the elderly.
He was praised as inspirational by Clive Bush, managing director of the Topland Group, which sponsors the award. “A lot of people have found the help they so desperately need because of your wonderful work.”
Mr Fisher said he was “greatly honoured, delighted, bewildered and at the same time very humbled that I have been chosen for such a prestigious award, which I will treasure for the rest of my life.
“This country took me in and I feel I am giving back by helping the Jewish people who, through no fault of their own, need assistance.
“It is one of my dearest wishes that there are many years left in which to carry out my work and I will do so as long as I am needed.”
In his speech, Mr Johnson covered both the business and charity sectors, lauding the capital’s wealth creators and paying the “warmest possible tribute” to Jewish Care.
“The expenses scandal has at last diverted some of the furore that has been directed at the bankers,” he said. Current and former MPs “feel we have thrown ourselves in the path of a bullet and taken that bullet for you, even if it wasn’t intentional. I’m proud to have done so.
“I think it is high time we did more to speak up for and defend the wealth creators of this city.”
The lunch raised £250,000 for Jewish Care’s Stepney Jewish Community Centre.