Sir Nicholas Winton: humanitarian

Yesterday, May 26th 2014, was the 105th birthday of Sir Nicholas Winton. Now there were no great fanfares to mark this landmark birthday. There were no special television programmes and I would imagine that most people reading this post will never have heard of this remarkable man.

To give you an idea look at this:

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The rescue of the 669 children was a great achievement, but after the war Winston did not mention it, even to his wife. By chance she was cleaning in the attic of their home in 1988 and discovered an old briefcase containing some old and dusty files.

These files were filled with pictures and details about children, most of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia, as it then was (The Czech and Slovak Republics now), who Winton managed to get to Britain by persuasion and the use of money that he raised in a very short space of time.

To see what happened see: http://youtu.be/irv5RlY2qxE

After the war, moving to Maidenhead, England, Winton became an active member of the Rotary Club. The birth of his son, Robin, in 1956, with Down’s syndrome got Winton involved in charity work. Contrary to the conventional wisdom of the day, he and Grete (his Danish wife) didn’t put Robin in an institution, but kept him at home until he died in 1962. 

“He was a lovely kid — very loving and affectionate. Father was so appalled at the level of understanding and advice that he got involved in Mencap,” his son Nick stated.

Later, Winton turned his attention to helping the elderly, and today he still helps raise money to build Abbeyfield retirement homes in his region. It was for this work that he received the M.B.E. and was later knighted. His wartime heroics had  been forgotten.

It is thought that there are now 5000 plus people who owe their existence on this planet to this man! Sir Nichols still wears a ring given to him by some of the children he saved. It is inscribed with a line from the Talmud, the book of Jewish law. It reads:

“Save one life, save the world.”

He is, without doubt, a great humanitarian and he deserves (although would not invite), greater public recognition. In a very small way, I hope that this post contributes to that aim.

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