Special assembly reflects on school’s role in helping Holocaust refugees

Refugees from the holocaust arrive at St Felix School, Southwold.

Refugees from the holocaust arrive at St Felix School, Southwold.

While Holocaust Day, on January 27, provides an opportunity for people around the world to consider the consequences of a tumultuous period in world history.

Pupils in assembly at Saint Felix School. Picture: courtesy of Saint Felix SchoolPupils in assembly at Saint Felix School. Picture: courtesy of Saint Felix School

For Saint Felix School, in Reydon near Southwold, the day has particular significance given the active role the school played in helping Jewish refugees at the time.

Saint Felix School was part of the Kindertransport programme, which enabled 10,000 children to escape almost inevitable death in the concentration camps and to make a new life, for the most part, in the UK.

On December 21 1938, 200 boys aged between 12 and 18-years-old arrived at Saint Felix in the midst of a snowstorm for a two-week stay.

After being billeted to the school, they were looked after by staff during the Christmas holidays.

The staff cancelled their annual Christmas evening and gave a party for the refugees and many volunteered to give up five days of their holiday to assist with looking after the children.

And on Monday, this week, a special assembly was held by the senior department to reflect on that particular period in the school’s history.

St Felix headteacher, James Harrison, said: “One of the values we aim to imbue in our students is a sense of social awareness and responsibility.

“We are very proud of our heritage and the history that we have in being a school with a strong sense of community spirit.

“It is pleasing to see that such values underpin the actions of our current students, a recent example being the collection of warm clothing and bedding which was wholly instigated and organised by Year 11 pupils for donation to the Access Community Trust in Lowestoft shortly before Christmas.”

In addition to the Jewish refugees, the school has a tradition of providing assistance in times of need to children from around the world, including Serbian refugees after the First World War , a nursery in east London in the 1920’s, Ugandan families fleeing Idi Amin’s regime in the 1970’s, and, more recently offering boarding places to Syrian refugees.

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