Honours for Holocaust survivor, RNLI volunteer and youth supporter

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From left are Jae Harris, John Horton and William Bergman

A HOLOCAUST survivor, an RNLI volunteer and the manager of a Christchurch group which helps deprived families were among those recognised in the New Year Honours.

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William Bergman (85), from West Parley, was made an MBE for his services to Holocaust education and awareness.

Meanwhile, John Horton, a former Calshot Lifeboat Station crew member, and Jae Harris, manager of the Christchurch Activities for Young People (CAYP) CIC, were each awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM).

William Bergman

Mr Bergman’s honour recognised the fact he regularly visits local schools and organisations to share his story. He has warned about the dangers of history repeating itself in his hard-hitting account, billed as a “wonderful account of succeeding over adversity”.

He was one of 12 Holocaust survivors recognised, and the honours were hailed by the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock, who said: “We wish each of these wonderful individuals a hearty mazel tov for an honour well deserved.

“Hearing from a Holocaust survivor has a far-reaching impact. Often referred to as the most memorable lesson of the year, our survivors inspire thousands upon thousands.

“As the Holocaust moves from living history to just history, the determination of these survivors to relive the most difficult moments of their life in order to inform future generations has never been more important.”

New Year Honours
William Bergman was made an MBE

Born in East Prussia, when he was five Mr Bergman watched the Nazis burn down his local synagogue and the surrounding houses during Kristallnacht when thousands of Jews were arrested.

His father and grandfather were initially interned in Dachau concentration camp, while Mr Bergman went into hiding with his mother.

Mr Bergman’s parents  were able to escape with him to England weeks before the Second World War broke out, but after arriving in Southampton were interned on the Isle of Man as stateless ‘enemy aliens’.

After their release in 1941, his father went to work on a farm and later in a factory. As time went on, the family discovered all their relatives and some friends had been killed.

Having arrived in England unable to speak a word of English, Mr Bergman went on to master the language, attain top grades at school and university, and forge a successful career as a specialist in fine art.

John Horton

Mr Horton was honoured with a BEM for his selfless dedication and enduring commitment to the RNLI for over 48 years. “Having already received an award from the RNLI, it was a very unexpected but pleasant surprise to receive the BEM,” he said.

During his time at the station Mr Horton has held a variety of positions there – the majority being command appointments.

As a volunteer, Mr Horton was responsible for launching more than 635 times, saving 142 lives. He was also the station’s operations manager for 10 years while it was one of the busiest in the UK.

New Year Honours
John Horton was awarded a British Empire Medal

Despite being well into his retirement, Mr Horton remains actively involved in the Calshot station and its activities. He has shifted his focus to fundraising, community safety and education, and is an engaging speaker for the RNLI who regularly hosts school and public visits to the station.

Since 2006, he has been responsible for managing £142,000 of annual donations and the cost of two lifeboats at £266,000. John is also the Calshot station’s ambassador.

RNLI chief executive, Mark Dowie said: “The RNLI is very proud of the volunteers who have been recognised in this year’s New Year Honours.

“Thanks to the tireless dedication and courage of our volunteers, fundraisers and staff, we are able to continue to do our vital lifesaving work.”

Jae Harris

Christchurch born and bred Mr Harris (50) has given back to the community for the past 14 years, during which time he has helped save local youth provision.

He worked for the local authority in 2005 helping to provide such services, but was made redundant six years later when funding for it was pulled.

However, determined that local children be provided with something, he established CYAP as an independent entity.

It provided activities and groups for young people in and around Somerford, taking over the youth club there and turning it into a thriving community centre which welcomes 500 people on average through its doors every week.

Jae Harris was awarded a British Empire Medal

The venture has grown and now incorporates a charity and also the Pantry – which provides food to struggling families. It also runs various classes and activities, such as a drama group and Duke of Edinburgh sessions.

Funded entirely by charitable donations and grants, the community interest company has a sterling reputation locally for assisting people.

Mr Harries revealed Sainsbury’s handed him 200 of its unsold turkeys on Monday revealing which he and volunteers spent their morning donating to local families.

“What we do requires enormous commitment from the staff and volunteers who are so important in supporting the activities. This award recognises all of their work too, it’s not just me on my own. We are a very strong team,” he said.

Mr Harris said he had gathered his team together just after Christmas and told them about the award – only to learn they had nominated him for it.

“It was incredibly humbling to learn they had gone to the effort of going through the application process of writing references, et cetera, for me,” he remarked.

“I don’t feel this as being something just for me – it’s something for all the volunteers and staff here who work so hard and who do a sterling job to support the community.”

Members of local authorities were also recognised, including Peter Colenutt – Hampshire County Council’s assistant director for strategic development in children’s services and adults’ health and care who was made an MBE.

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