Sir Nicholas Winton – A tribute

02/07/2015

Following the death of Sir Nicholas Winton on the 1st July 2015 at the age of 106, The Abbeyfield Society would like to acknowledge not only his heroic deeds during the Holocaust, but also his dedication and support for the Society.

Sir Nicholas’ brave endeavours, rescuing Jewish children from Prague and ensuring safe passage by way of the Kindertransport in 1939, are well documented. It was only after Sir Nicholas’ wife found papers in the attic relating to the hundreds of children that he rescued from the Nazis, some 50 years later, that Sir Nicholas’ selfless heroics came to light and he was recognised for his efforts.

Sir Nicholas Winton

Involved in the Abbeyfield Society since 1960, not long after its creation by Richard Carr-Gomm, Sir Nicholas co-founded the Abbeyfield Maidenhead Society and was its President until his death. With his friend Griff Morris he built sheltered housing for eight older Maidenhead residents in 1973, followed in 1980 by Winton House and in 2011 by Nicholas House. His work supporting the Abbeyfield movement was recognised in 1983 when he was awarded an MBE, and in 2003 he was knighted in recognition of his efforts on the Kindertransport.

Chairman of the Abbeyfield Maidenhead Society, David Cager, said: “All this was possible due to Nicky’s drive and energy - and his ability to coerce people like me and many others to carry out his wishes. When he approached anyone with something he wanted doing, one found oneself thinking not whether you would do it, but how it would be achieved. His attitude was always ‘If it’s not impossible…’ and he never gave up.”

A statue of Sir Nicholas with two children stands at Prague Train Station, from where the rescued children started their journey to safety. There is also a statue of a seated Sir Nicholas at Maidenhead Station, commemorating his achievements.

In 2007, he received the Czech Republic's highest military decoration, the Cross of the 1st Class, and was nominated by the Czech government for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.  A train dubbed "The Winton Train" left Prague station on 1 September 2009, exactly 70 years after the last Kindertransport had been due to depart from the Czech capital. In October 2014, at the age of 105, he travelled to Prague to receive the Czech Republic's highest honour, the Order of the White Lion.

It is with the greatest respect and thanks for his contribution to the Abbeyfield family that we remember Sir Nicholas.

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