BBC West Midlands Radio and Birmingham City Council Event, Sunday 27th January 2013

Just as I expected, Holocaust Memorial Day turned out to be a busy day. As previously written, I was also delighted to see details of events and people showing their support for the day on Twitter.

My own day began with an interview at 10:00am on BBC West Midlands Radio. Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, was on the line from London talking about the details of the Trust's 'Lessons from Auschwitz' Project and the kind of support the Trust can give to institutions like schools who may wish to have a survivor speak to students, or organise other events.
In the studio, I was interviewed by Ed Doolan, who asked me about my experience when visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau and how the project had impacted upon me. We discussed the fact that some people do not feel they can bring themselves to visit such places, so it is vital that people who do embark on such trips can pass the lessons on to others. With a later guest, who had also visited Auschwitz, we talked about trying to keep a certain level of 'normality' when visiting the camp, seen in the fast food kiosk in the car park, and my own experiences of seeing people smoking cigarettes or drinking cups of coffee just outside the main entrance. Finally, I promoted this blog and the ways in which people can get in touch with the Trust.
I must admit that I was incredibly nervous but I am so pleased that I was invited onto the show. I would also like to thank the people I know who listened in specially; it really means a lot.
If you would like to listen to the interview, follow this link and start listening from around one hour, two minutes in. The interview lasts approximately 25 minutes. Please note this will only be available to listen to until Sunday 3rd February 2013.

At 2:00pm on Sunday afternoon, Birmingham City Council held their own Holocaust Memorial Day event in the city centre's Town Hall. I was invited to speak on behalf of the Trust, alongside two Student Ambassadors who had completed the project in 2012. Testimonies were given by Auschwitz survivor Mindu Hornick and Mirsad Solakovic, a survivor of the Bosnian genocide. Other speakers included Birmingham's current Poet Laureate and Young Poet Laureate, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and leaders of faith groups in the city.
The traditional lighting of six candles (originally to mark the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust) was held, followed by a minute's silence. I was honoured to light a candle on behalf of Malala Yousafzai, the young girl shot in the head by the Taliban who campaigns for women to have a right to education in her home country of Pakistan. Malala received treatment for her injuries in Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital after miraculously surviving such a devastating wound, but was unable to attend the event. Even so, just lighting a candle in her place was truly humbling, as my admiration for such a young, determined girl is endless.
The event was attended by members of the public and MPs. In my speech, I was quick to point out the theme of Holocaust Memorial Day 2013 is 'Communities Together: Build a Bridge' and Birmingham is fantastically multi-cultural, with white people, black people, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses, straight people, gay people etc. living and working alongside each other. I encouraged the people in attendance that by turning up to the event they were saying 'no' to prejudice and intolerance, and asked them to work to make each community a safe and pleasant place to be. I can only encourage readers of this blog to do the same.