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Holocaust survivors recognised in New Year Honours

The impresario known as the grande dame of Anglo-Jewish art, a noted advocate for women in business and a dozen Shoah survivors are among those recognised in the New Year honours

    Freda Wineman, Harry Bibring, Lt Col Mordaunt Cohen (Pictures: Getty, PA, gov.co.uk)
    Freda Wineman, Harry Bibring, Lt Col Mordaunt Cohen (Pictures: Getty, PA, gov.co.uk)

    Lilian Hochhauser, who has been appointed a CBE for services to arts and cultural relations, is considered, at 90, the grande dame of Anglo-Jewish arts.

    She said: “I was delighted to receive the honour. It means what I’ve done in my career has been of some importance.

    “I think it recognises all my work, in the arts and in cultural relations. That has been most satisfying –using the arts to communicate.”

    Her passion for ballet saw her bring Russia’s seminal Mariinsky dance company to London for a three-week-long season at the capital’s Covent Garden. With her husband Victor, who was earlier honoured as a CBE, the couple are the leading impresarios who brought Russian musicians and dance companies to Britain, among many other performers over the last 60 years.

    Mrs Hochhauser,was born in London to parents who moved here from a village now in Ukraine. She met Victor, a Slovakian refugee from the Nazis, while arranging charity concerts for Rabbi Dr Solomon Schonfeld with such musicians as Yehudi Menuhin and the pianist Solomon, and their work and romance blossomed from there.

    The pair achieved eminence at the highest level of British cultural life, and formed close ties with such leading musicians as composer Dimitri Shostakovich, pianist Sviatoslav Richter, the violinist David Oistrakh and the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.

     

    David Meller was appointed a CBE for services to education. He is the founder of the Meller Educational Trust and chair of the National Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network.

    He said: “I’m thrilled. I have worked for 30 years in education and I’m passionate about helping less privileged kids.”

    Mr Meller, whose business is one of the largest luxury home and beauty suppliers in the UK, is a non-executive board member of the Department for Education. 
     

    Lynne Franks, who made her name as a celebrity PR guru, has been appointed a OBE for her work in fashion, business and women’s empowerment.

    Ms Franks founded one of the UK’s best-known public relations consultancies in the 1970s and is currently an advocate, communications strategist, writer and spokeswoman on women’s issues, sustainability and consumer lifestyles.

    “I’m very excited to have received the honour,” she said. “Absolutely delighted. For me the most important thing is being recognised for women’s empowerment. I don’t know if that's been honoured before.

    “It’s significant and indicative of the times we live in, I think – the advance towards women’s equality.

    “I’m proud of the book I wrote in 2000 on how women could start businesses using their natural skills and intuition. It was the first book of its kind and told women it was OK to do things differently. Those skills are now recognised today as important in management.”

    Ms Franks, 69, who has two children, and lives in Somerset, has bought a  former pub in Wincanton which she plans to transform into a wellbeing hub with a café and workshop. She aims to run women’s leadership and business retreats, as well as lifestyle workshops.

    She is considered the inspiration behind Jennifer Saunders’s character Edina Monsoon in the popular BBC TV series Absolutely Fabulous.

     

    Professor Judy Sebba, director of the University of Oxford’s Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education, was appointed an OBE for her services to higher education and disadvantaged young people.

    She said she was "delighted" , and stressed the invaluable contributions made by her colleagues.

    Previously she was director of research and knowledge exchange in the School of Education and Social Work at Sussex University.

    Her work involves working with a range of professionals in social care and education, as well as young people in care, to assess priorities for research.

    Her current research involves improving the educational outcomes of children in care, only six per cent of whom currently reach university, and trying to counter the effects of abuse on neglected children.

    Prof Sebba has worked as a senior adviser to the Department for Education.

    She and her colleagues at the Rees Centre were advisers on the children’s social care innovation programme, published in November by the department. The programme aims to improve the quality of social care services for children. 

     

    Naomi Marek has been appointed an OBE for services to special educational needs.

    Ms Marek is co-founder and chief executive officer of Sky Badger, a charity that helps disabled children and their families find services available to them.

    Sky Badger was set up by Ms Barek and three other mothers in 2011, all with children with disabilities or with life-limiting conditions, who found it difficult to keep track of the care service provision.

    Ms. Marek’s own son Max, now a teenager, started suffering from life-threatening seizures when he was six-years-old. The charity is named after Max’s alter ego, Sky Badger, a superhero character he created in games with his brother.

    Writing in the Guardian in 2015, Ms Marek said: "One of the most important things about Sky Badger was that we wanted our kids to be just kids.

    "Whatever challenges they faced, their medical conditions and disabilities did not and would not define them."

    To date, Sky Badger has helped more than 320,000 families and won several awards.

    "I’m doing all of this because I know the difference it can make to get the right help at the right time. I don’t want anyone else to struggle the way I had to.. it’s simply not fair," writes Mr. Marek on the charity's website.

     

    Richard Mintz, who has been named an OBE for services to philanthropy, said he was “absolutely thrilled to receive this unexpected award”, describing it as a “wonderful recognition”.

    The property investor and developer has served on the boards of several charities, including Jewish Care, of which he was a trustee for 22 years, and Work Avenue, an employment and business support network. He developed close ties with the Camden Roundhouse, largely due to the philanthropic influence of his father the late patron of the arts, Louis Mintz.

    With a background in philanthropy and business expertise, Mr Mintz grew up around committee life and became inspired by the need to help vulnerable people get on their feet, rather than offer charity.

    “It is important for them to receive the maximum  amount of dignity, as a human being” he said.  “What is a human being without dignity?”

    A governor of JFS and Immanuel College, Mr Mintz has lived in Canada, America and Israel, but returned to Britain, which he considers home.

     

    Lieutenant Colonel Mordaunt Cohen, the most senior Jewish war veteran in the UK, has been made an MBE for services to Second World War education.

    At the age of 101, he is the oldest recipient of an honour in the list. 

    Sunderland-born Lt Col Cohen said he was “deeply humbled and honoured” and dedicated his award to his comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

    “When I was commanding troops many miles from here, in very tough conditions, never did I even imagine that aged 101, I would receive such an honour.

    “As the years go by, there are less of us around to tell our story. I look forward to continuing to educate as many people as possible in the years ahead, health permitting.  

    "It is my mission to make sure that future generations will understand what our armed forces went through, so that we can all live freely and in peace in this country.  As a British Jewish veteran, I’m especially proud of the immense contribution made by the 60,000 Jewish soldiers who served our country in World War Two."

    Lt Col Cohen enlisted in 1940 and started his army service as a gunner.  But his leadership skills were recognised and in 1942, being commissioned as an officer, he was sent to Nigeria to command a unit that was part of the Royal West African Frontier Force. Eighty per cent his troops were Muslims and they referred to him as "the white Muslim". 

    He left Nigeria in 1943 and saw action in Burma. As part of the ‘forgotten army’ he continued fighting the Japanese after the war ended in Europe. 

    He was subsequently mentioned in dispatches for bravery in the Burma campaign.

    In 1947,he became involved in a local regiment of the Territorial Army and in 1953 received the Territorial Decoration (TD) for long dedicated military service. In 1954 was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

    Upon returning to Britain, Lt Col Cohen had resumed his legal career – he had qualified as a solicitor before the war -  and was for the following 45 years one of the most well-known figures in community life, serving Sunderland in many areas.

    He served on the executive of the Sunderland Hebrew Congregation, and was appointed the shul’s honorary Life President in 1988. In 1992 Sunderland University awarded his late wife, Judge Myrella Cohen QC, the first female Judge in the North-East, an honorary doctorate of law.  This was the first such award made by the university.

    In 1986 Lt Col Cohen took up the position of Deputy Lieutenant of T-yne and Wear. He retired in 1990 and moved to London to be near to his children and grandchildren. He is now vice president of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX).

     

    Professor Michael Levin was appointed an MBE for services to infectious diseases, critical care and research. He is professor of paediatrics and international child health at Imperial College London and St Mary’s Hospital. He was previously consultant in infectious diseases at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

    The award came as a “total shock”, he said, stressing that it recognised the collaborative work he has carried out with colleagues.

    “I’ve been privileged to work as a part of a wonderful team, looking after seriously ill children,” he said.

    For a number of years he has been leading a study to develop a blood test to distinguish between viral and bacterial illnesses in children. This would mean infections such as meningitis, septicaemia or pneumonia could be easily identified, and caught more rapidly.

    Prof Levin came to Britain at the age of 25, fleeing apartheid South Africa, where he was due to be drafted into the army. He arrived with only his bag of clothes and his medical degree, in “a very precarious state”, he said.

    Being given the award was “very moving”, he said.

     

    Morris Bright has been made an MBE for services to local government.

    Politics runs in Mr. Bright’s blood: his paternal grandfather, Morris Blitz, was the first Jewish Mayor of Hackney in 1959, and his father, Jack, was a Liberal councillor in Hackney. " I suppose I have quite a lot to live up to," Mr Bright joked.

    Commenting on the award, he said: "I was very surprised, and humbled", adding that he was indebted to his colleagues. "You’re only as good as the people around you," he said.

    A local Conservative councillor on Hertsmere Borough Council since 1999, and council leader since 2007, Mr Bright has held a number of posts in the areas of culture, leisure, and community safety. His mantra, he said, was "to leave a place in a better condition than you find it".

    Mr Bright, who is also chairman of Elstree Studios and a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, has written several works on the film industry, including a history of Pinewood Studios and books about the Carry On films.

     

    Leonie Lewis, who has been made an MBE for services to the London Jewish community, is vice-chair of the Faiths Forum in London, and a vice-president of the United Synagogue.

    She said: “I’m honoured to receive the award. I've worked in the community over 35 years and I'm proud to be the first director of the largest faith-based volunteer organisation, the Jewish Volunteering Network. 

    “Thanks to my husband Howard and my family for putting up with my unsocial hours and my volunteering and work commitments.”

    A former co-chair of the United Synagogue Women group, Mrs Lewis holds several voluntary positions, including a trusteeship of the Faith Based Regeneration Network. She is co-chair of the Faith Forum for London, adviser to the Children’s Aid Committee and assessor for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. She is a member of Pinner Synagogue.

     

    Dr Martin Stern was named as a MBE for services to Holocaust education.

    Originally from Holland, he was sheltered by a Dutch couple after the Nazi occupation, but was arrested and sent to Theresienstadt.

    After the war, he joined relatives in Manchester, and attended Manchester Grammar School.

    From there he went to Brasenose College, Oxford, to study medicine and followed a career as a doctor, becoming an immunologist and an ­authority on asthma.

    Now in his seventies and retired, he gives talks to schools about his wartime experiences.

    In a 2010 interview he said that the only hope of preventing future genocides was to “immunise every child against the tendency to hate others and to regard others as inferior".

     

    Andrew Kaufman, 71, chair of the Association of Jewish Refugees, has also been named as an MBE for services to Holocaust Education.

    He said: “As the son of two refugees who fled Nazi oppression and rebuilt their lives in Britain, I feel hugely honoured and enormously proud to have been nominated and to accept this wonderful award, which I shall deeply treasure, on behalf of everyone at the AJR.”

    Leading the congratulations, two fellow AJR trustees, Eleanor Angel and David Rothenberg, said: “We are thrilled and excited for Andrew who deserves our huge thanks and many congratulations on his richly-deserved nomination in recognition of his years of tireless service and dedication to the culture and welfare of the refugee community.”

    In its own tribute, the AJR said it was “delighted to congratulate its chairman on his nomination”, adding: “Andrew has been at the forefront in the development of the AJR’s charitable institutional grant-making.”

    Mr Kaufman has been a leading advocate of the creation and development of the AJR’s Refugee Voices testimony archive, a collection of 225 transcribed interviews with refugees and survivors recorded for posterity.

    He has been responsible for the expansion of the movement’s social welfare and care services throughout the country, bringing support to more isolated members.

    Mr Kaufman studied law at St John’s College, Oxford, and has been a solicitor for nearly 50 years, including almost 40 years as a partner, specialising in representing companies from Germany, Austria and Switzerland investing in the UK. He is now a consultant at Fladgate LLP.

    Married to Susie Kaufman, they have two children, Nicola and Oliver, and four grandchildren.

     

    Bernd Koschland was named an MBE for his work in Holocaust education.

    Born near Nuremberg, Germany, in 1931 into an Orthodox family. he escaped the Holocaust on the Kindertransport in 1939, settling in the UK.

    He trained as a Jewish minister, becoming Reverend Koschland and joining Kingston Synagogue in south London.  He left his shul role for full-time teaching, working at JFS and the City of London School for Girls, before retiring in 1995.

    He was also Jewish chaplain at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.

    He says: I believe strongly that despite the past, life must carry on, that you must do something useful with your life. Today, speaking about the Holocaust and the Kindertransport is part of the lives of many who survived. I believe that this is so important that memories of the Holocaust, and the Kindertransport are passed on to the next generation and not forgotten.”

     

    Hannah Lewis, appointed an MBE for her Holocaust education work, survived a labour camp in Poland and came to Britain in 1949. She lives in London having married in 1961 and has four children and eight grandchildren. She has given talks in schools and universities for several years, providing an insight into the enduring impact of the Holocaust.

     

    Joan Salter, who has been made an MBE for services to Holocaust education, was born Fanny Zimetbaum in Brussels in 1940.

    She managed to escape the Holocaust by fleeing with her mother and sister to Spain, having been smuggled out of Paris hidden in a laundry van.

    She then travelled to America where she was taken in by a foster family.

    In 1947, she and her sister were reunited with their parents, both of whom had managed to survive the war and were living in the UK.

    Mrs Salter now lives in London and regularly shares her testimony in schools and colleges across the country.

     

    Mr. Antony (Tony) Goodman has been named an MBE for services to international trade and exports. 

    Born in Didsbury, Cheshire, he has had a career in commerce spanning more than 30 years.

    He is chief executive of kosher food company Yumsh Snacks Ltd, which was set up in 2014.

    Its products are available in more than 30 countries.

    In a interview with Cheshire Life magazine last year, Mr Goodman said his ambition for 2017 was to “promote Cheshire around the world”.

     

    Also appointed an MBE was Lucy Marks, chief executive and clinical psychologist at Compass Wellbeing, a health care provider in Tower Hamlets in east London. She was nominated for services to children's mental health and primary care.

     

    Czech-born Josef Perl, who has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for Holocaust education work, survived numerous concentration camps including Auschwitz, Dachau and Bergen-Belsen.

    Now living in Hertfordshire with his wife Sylvia, he regularly spoke to students and groups about his experiences, until his retirement in 2009.  He has also written a book about his experiences, called Faces in the Smoke.

     

    Another BEM recipient for Holocaust education is Janine Webber. Born in Poland, she spent the war in hiding and survived by disguising her Jewish identity. In 1956, she came to the UK to improve her English, where she met and married her husband. She lives in London and regularly is invited by schools to share her wartime experiences.

     

    Harry Bibring also received the BEM for services to Holocaust education.

    Born in Vienna 1925, he and his sister escaped the Nazis on the Kindertransport to Britain.

    In an interview with the BBC in 2015, he said he never told anyone about his story until an invitation came from a rabbi to talk about his life to students at a local school.

    To date he has visited dozens of schools to speak to pupils about his experiences during the Holocaust.

    Mr Bibring is a chartered engineer, who worked for 20 years as a manufacturing engineer and later as a lecturer at a college that became Middlesex University.

     

    Retired tailor Harry Spiro, 88, said he was “delighted” to learn he had been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to Holocaust education, although he said he “never did it to get an award”.

    Mr Spiro was born in Piotrkow, which in October 1939 became the first ghetto established by the Nazis in Poland. While the rest of his family were murdered in Treblinka, he survived Theresienstadt after walking on a “death march” in which 2,300 of the 3,000 who set off died.

    He said that upon arrival to the UK, he was taught by a counsellor not to hold a grudge, and to make the most out of his new life. He has spent the last 15 years speaking in schools.

    He said: “Sometimes the children do not understand why I do not hold a grudge. But when do you stop hating and start living?

    “I have been very lucky, but the biggest luck was meeting the right person, my wife Pauline. We really didn’t have anything but each other.

    “Looking at my children and grandchildren now I think my life has finished in the best possible way. This honour is the icing on the cake.”

     

    Leslie Kleinman has been awarded a BEM for services to Holocaust education.

    He was born into an Orthodox family in the small village of Ambud, Romania in 1929. Along with his seven siblings and mother, he was deported to Aushwitz but escaped the gas chambers by lying about his age. The rest of his family, except one sister who died shortly after the camp’s liberation, all perished immediately.

    It was while recuperating in an American-run hospital after the war that he was selected as one of 1,000 child survivors to settle in Britain.

    He is still actively involved in Holocaust education, lecturing at schools around the country, and is also a member of the Holocaust Educational Trust.

    “It was, and remains, important to me that something positive should be taken from my time in Auschwitz and that all the years of suffering should not be in vain,” he says. “From the darkness of Auschwitz came light – and this is my legacy.”

     

    Freda Wineman, who has also been awarded a BEM for services to Holocaust education, said she felt “great pride” to be recognised for speaking in schools across the UK for 25 years.

    Mrs Wineman, who was born in France in 1923, was evacuated to the country’s south-west before being arrested and sent to Auschwitz in 1940, where her parents and brother, Marcel, were killed.

    She was moved to two different camps before ultimately arriving in Theresienstadt, where she was liberated by Soviet troops.

    In 1950, she married and moved to the UK. She lives in London.

     

    Dr Chaim Olmer, who has spoken about his experience as a survivor for 20 years, has also been awarded a BEM for services to Holocaust education.

    In 1942, as a 15-year-old, he was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, before being moved to Schleiben and then Theresienstadt, where he was liberated by the Russian army in May 1945.

    Despite speaking no English, he qualified as a dentist after arriving in Glasgow in 1945, and went on to serve in the British Army.

    Dr Olmer, 90, said: “I didn’t expect this award; I told my family and they were very happy. But it doesn’t mean an awful lot – what’s important is telling people about the Holocaust so no one experiences it again. Our stories need to be told.”

     

    Maryon Stewart, who founded the Angelus Foundation to raise awareness of the danger of drugs, has been awarded a BEM for services to drug education.

    She was awarded the honour for her work with the foundation, which she set up after her 21-year-old daughter Hester died from a legal high in 2009.

    Ms Stewart, a nutritionist known for her work in women’s health, as an author of 27 books and as a broadcaster, was instrumental in raising awareness about the dangers of psychoactive drugs sold on the high street, known as legal highs or new psychoactive substances (NPS).

    She campaigned for seven years against the open sale of legal highs, finally succeeding in 2016 when the Psychoactive Substances Act came into effect. The law banned the supply of legal highs and NPS, closing approximately 500 retail outlets, including 115 websites, in the process saving countless lives.

    Ms Stewart said: “I’m honoured to be the recipient of such an outstanding award and accept it as part of the wider Angelus team. This is a very special, yet sad, day for me, as I’d love to share it with my daughter Hester.

    “It was a very serious and emotional journey for me which I shared with a lot of other people, from lords to medical experts celebrities and other parents who have lost their children. It is very poignant that this has proved such a successful journey because we managed to change the law. I’m so proud that my efforts to campaign against legal highs not only prompted government change but, through increased awareness, also prevented harm and saved many young lives, leaving other families whole.”

    She is now campaigning to help women going through the menopause without the use of HRT. “I’m having a great time,” she said.

     

    Adrian Jacobs, a volunteer police liaison with the Metropolitan Police, has been awarded a BEM for services to interfaith relations and the community in the London Borough of Barnet.

    Mr Jacobs heads the informal North-West London Police Liaison Committee, which acts as an intermediary between residents and the police.

     

    Shimon Fhima was appointed an MBE for services to taxpayers. Mr Fhima is deputy director, transformation at HM Revenue and Customs, a key role in developing digital programmes.

    He was previously a digital service manager at HMRC

    A graduate in law of Manchester Metropolitan University, he received two awards for outstanding academic achievement.

     

    Moira Newton has been appointed an MBE for services to the Jewish community in North London.

     

    Professor Michael Goodyer was named an OBE for services to psychiatry research. He is professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Cambridge University. 

     

    Welcoming the recognition given to those involved in Holocaust education, Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: "These honours recognise the significant time and effort these survivors and educators have spent furthering understanding of the Holocaust and genocide. Their tireless work has inspired thousands of people across the country on Holocaust Memorial Day and throughout the year.

    "Honours are a mark of respect for survivors and educators, and this national recognition of their hard work and dedication is of great importance."

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