Memorial at last for unsung Kindertransport hero Trevor Chadwick

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Memorial at last for unsung Kindertransport hero Trevor Chadwick

The teacher who first travelled to Czechoslovakia in January 1939 to bring back two refugee children has had a bronze statue unveiled in his home town of Swanage, Dorset.

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Trevor Chadwick's memorial in Swanage.
Trevor Chadwick's memorial in Swanage.

A previously unsung British hero of the Holocaust has finally received proper recognition in his home town of Swanage, Dorset, where a bronze statue has been unveiled by his grandson.

Trevor Chadwick, a Latin teacher and lifeboat volunteer, first travelled to Czechoslovakia in January 1939 to bring back two refugee children who had been given places at his school. While in Prague he met another potential refugee child, Gerda Mayer, and took her back to the UK as well; Chadwick’s mother stood as guarantor for Gerda.

Like the later, better-known Nicholas Winton, Chadwick began trying to bring out hundreds of Jewish children from Czechoslovakia, working with the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia, selecting children for the Kindertransport and organising their departure. His first operation was an evacuation by a 20-seat aeroplane from Prague. Later evacuation were usually by train. Chadwick accompanied the children to the Prague rail station.

Josephine Jackson from the Trevor Chadwick Memorial Trust with the statue.

In early June 1939, Chadwick saw off a final trainload of 123 children and left Czechoslovakia. Winton later wrote: “Chadwick did the more difficult and dangerous work after the Nazis invaded… he deserves all praise.”

Chadwick died in 1979 and is now honoured in Swanage.

A children’s playground has been named after him and a blue plaque in his name has been approved at the town’s railway station.

At a ceremony on Bank Holiday Monday for the unveiling of statue by local sculptor Moira Purver, about 300 guests were present in brilliant sunshine, together with the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell, the High Sheriff of Dorset, Sibyl Fine King, Richard Drax MP and Val Pothecary, chairman of Dorset Council. There were also dedications from Rabbi Maurice Michaels and Reverend Tony Higgins, who is also a former lifeboat crew member.

The Association of Jewish Refugees’ head of education Alex Maws said: “The child refugees who owed their lives to actions of Trevor Chadwick never got to thank him in person, which is why the Association of Jewish Refugees is so pleased to support this important new memorial.

“We hope it will not only serve to educate about an important historical episode, but also inspire future generations to consider the ways in which ordinary people can make a difference in the world.”

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