School pupils poised to ‘be the light in the darkness’ for Holocaust Memorial Day

Published Friday 15 January 2021 at 9:12

Local secondary school pupils are set to take part in an online ceremony to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday 27 January.

Pupils from five Blackburn with Darwen schools took part in a competition to creatively explore the theme of this year’s commemorations: ‘Be the light in the darkness’.

The pupils’ entries included poetry, drawing, painting and sculpture and were judged by the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Coun Iftakhar Hussain.

Pupils from Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School (TIBHS) and St Wilfrid’s C of E Academy will present their creative pieces during the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony on 27 January, which will take place online due to national lockdown restrictions.

Zakaria Master, a Year 8 pupil at TIBHS, penned a moving poem. It explores themes around humanity and hope, and how we can all be the light in someone else’s darkness.

James Snelling, a Year 8 pupil at St Wilfrid’s, created a sculpture of a candle with teardrops representing the lives lost in the Holocaust, and hands to represent the survivors.

Coun Iftakhar Hussain commented:

Judging the competition entries, it was clear to me that these young people approached the subject of discrimination and oppression with real maturity. The work they created, whether written or visual artwork, was very poignant and showed they had a good understanding of the Holocaust Memorial Day theme.

It was very difficult to choose which ones to feature in our commemoration event. Well done to every single one of them and thank you for your hard work.

See all the pupils’ creative entries on our special Holocaust Memorial Day page.

The event at 1.30pm on Wednesday 27 January will be jointly hosted online by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, the Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum and Blackburn Cathedral.

With speakers from different faith communities and contributions from Zakaria and James, the ceremony aims to bring the community together to remember and pay respects to victims of genocide, oppression and torture.

Rabbi Arnold Saunders will give the keynote address, and there will also be contributions from the Chair of Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum Abdul Kheratker, and Youth MP Zara Hayat.

The ceremony will also feature a short film made by students from Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio. Students interviewed Holocaust survivors Bob and Anna Kirkis, who shared their personal experiences to help students gain a better understanding of the horrors of the Second World War.

The end of the ceremony will be marked with the lighting of candles as a sign of peace and unity, and a one minute silence will be observed. Everyone taking part in the event online is welcome to light a candle wherever they are.

Derek Estill, Secretary of the Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum, is among those organising the ceremony. He said:

Our Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony is a very important event in our interfaith calendar here in Blackburn with Darwen. Usually we would gather together, people of different ages, faiths and backgrounds, in the Town Hall.

While we cannot meet up in person this year, that will not deter us from joining together on Holocaust Memorial Day to condemn hatred and discrimination in all forms, and to pay our respects to victims of the Holocaust and other genocides.

Rev Dr Rowena Pailing will host the online ceremony. She said:

This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme of ‘Be the light in the darkness’ invites us to explore how we can all stand up to and overcome different kinds of darkness, including identity-based persecution as millions of Jews experienced in the Holocaust.

Everyone in Blackburn with Darwen is welcome to be a part of the borough’s Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration by watching the event live on Blackburn Cathedral’s YouTube channel.

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