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Holocaust Survivor Helfgott receives Pride of Britain Award

Holocaust survivor Sir Ben Helfgott has received a Pride of Britain Award in honour of his “quiet determination to ensure that the unspeakable wickedness and evil” of the Holocaust is never forgotten.

Holocaust Survivor Helfgott receives Pride of Britain Award

It is the latest honour for the 90-year-old two-time British Olympic weightlifting Team Captain who received a Knighthood in 2018 in recognition of his contribution to services to Holocaust remembrance and education.

Sir Ben was born in Poland on the November 22, 1929. His parents and younger sister were killed during the Holocaust and he was brought to England aged just 15 after surviving the Buchenwald concentration camp and being liberated from Theresienstadt.

He won three Gold medals for Great Britain at the Maccabiah Games in the lightweight division, triumphing in 1950, 1953, and 1957, and also secured Bronze for Team England at the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff.

He was appointed captain of the British Olympic weightlifting team in 1956 for the Melbourne Olympics and then achieved the same feat four years later in Rome lifting alongside Four-Time World Champion Louis Martin.

British Weight Lifting would like to congratulate Sir Ben on his latest achievement.

BWL CEO Ashley Metcalfe said: “It is fantastic to see Sir Ben Helfgott recognised in this way. He is a great ambassador for the sport who has demonstrated great courage to overcome adversity and inspire a generation of athletes. Sir Ben is hugely respected within the weightlifting community and we are absolutely delighted for him.”

At the London 2012 Olympic Games, Sir Ben provided motivation and support to many young weightlifters including future Commonwealth Games Champion Zoe Smith.

Television Presenter Stephen Fry presented Sir Ben with the Pride of Britain Award in a ceremony filmed at the Holocaust Memorial in Hyde Park.

Speaking at the event Mr Fry said “You shouldn’t have to be Jewish or to have a relatives who perished in the Holocaust yourself to be stunned by characters like Ben Helfgott, though of course it does add an extra element of admiration and appreciation.

“His actions speak for all humanity however. His quiet determination to ensure that the unspeakable wickedness and evil of what happened has been inspirational.

“Against indifference, denial and doubt he has raised a literal and figurative memorial wall that honours the victims and helps push back against the possibility that such horrors might be allowed to happen again.”

Sir Ben, who said he was “honoured” to receive the Pride of Britain award, was joined by his wife Arza, their three sons and five of his grandchildren at the Pride of Britain event which is due to be broadcast by ITV on Sunday.

In 1963, he helped establish the ‘45 Aid Society to assist more than 700 children who arrived with him in the UK after the War. He led the organisation for nearly half a century until 2016.

He has also served as president of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and was a member of David Cameron’s Holocaust Commission which recommended the creation of a national Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London.

Holocaust Educational Trust CEO Karen Pollock described Sir Ben as a “hero” who “dedicated his life to ensuring the past is never forgotten.”

The Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards in partnership with TSB, will be broadcast on ITV on Sunday Nov 1 at 9pm


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