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Sir Nicholas Winton

Few of us live to 105. It is not, however, for his own survival to that great age (and we hope, well beyond) that Sir Nicholas Winton will be remembered, but for his work in 1938 and 1939 that enabled 669 others to survive the impending Holocaust. What made this even more remarkable was that he kept quiet about the feat for decades afterwards. He had already been honoured with an MBE for his work establishing the Abbeyfield homes for the elderly when his wife discovered a scrapbook revealing his role in bringing Czechoslovakian Jewish children to Britain. He faced and overcame the threat of Nazi violence, the spinelessness of Dutch officialdom and the mean-spiritedness of the British establishment – resorting to forgery of Home Office documents when the need arose. When the story emerged he was quick to praise the courage and energy of his colleagues in the work. The moving tale came out in 1988 but he was not knighted until 2003, not something that would perhaps bother such a self-effacing man, though set against traded gongs for politicians and bankers it gives pause for thought. He has just been awarded the Czech government’s highest honour, the Order of the White Lion, rather apposite given his white hair and incredible strength of character. An extraordinarily decent hero.

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I work for a Government I despise for ends I think criminal. - John Maynard Keynes
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Battle of Falkirk - 1298, King David Hotel Bombing - 1946, Death of Jean Charles de Menezes - 2005
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