Saying thanks to Anne Frank educator


Against a backdrop of photo montages depicting Gillian Walnes with political leaders and showbiz stars, the founder of the Anne Frank Trust UK marked her retirement as the charity's executive director at a City reception attended by 140 supporters.

As speakers from the trust and Anne Frank House in Amsterdam pointed out, Ms Walnes has led the charity for 25 years and been involved in Anne Frank educational work for longer.

Trust chair Daniel Mendoza said that an initiative started from the front room of her home had played a significant role in combating prejudice - although in the wake of the Brussels bombings, "I know we have a long way to go".

Reflecting on Ms Walnes's ability to attract celebrity support for the trust's work, chief executive Robert Posner observed: "I actually believe the word 'chutzpah' was modelled on you."

Anne Frank House's Hans Westra recalled that at the outset, the trust had hardly any money and no paid staff. "Under your leadership, it has become one of the most respected NGOs in the field of Holocaust education."

Ms Walnes said afterwards that she had been overwhelmed by the sentiments expressed.

"It was a good time to reflect on an amazing journey. We have taken the message of Anne Frank to the furthest reaches of the country. On any given day, we have educators in seven regions going into schools and prisons. The trust is in very good shape with excellent leadership. I couldn't ask for better."

She would be keeping "a benign eye" on its progress in her new role as vice-president.

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