MBE honour for Holocaust survivor after students' letter effort
- Credit: Photo: Jo Ward
After nearly two years of efforts, students at Northgate High School are pleased Holocaust survivor Frank Bright has been recognised with an MBE in the New Year's Honours list.
Mr Bright, who will be 93 this year, regularly speaks to Northgate students about his experiences at Auschwitz concentration camp which he was taken to aged 16.
Both of his parents were killed in the gas chambers and his research found that many of his classmates from his Jewish school in Prague were also murdered by the Nazis.
He came to Britain after the liberation, taking night classes in order to become a civil engineer. He has since told his story to thousands of British school children, tirelessly educating them about the Second World War and the Holocaust.
Northgate students first nominated the educator for an MBE in March 2020, but were left frustrated when no recognition came.
They tried again in March 2021, writing to Ipswich MP Tom Hunt and then the Prime Minister, in the hope that direct action could speed up the process and ensure Mr Bright get the recognition he deserved.
In total, the students wrote 20 letters to local and national figures, stressing the importance of honouring Mr Bright for his incredible and important contribution to education and community life within Ipswich - and the world as a whole.
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The letter written to the Prime Minister read: "Frank Bright is the most remarkable individual we have ever met.
"Frank has helped us realise that we all have a duty to be proactive and help to shape the way our country develops.
"What better way to do that than to recognise and honour Frank's enormous contribution to British society and to publicise his story more widely so that it influences even more young people?
"Frank has made us determined to ensure that the horrific events that happened just a generation ago are not repeated.
"History is not the story of aliens from another planet, it is the story of us had we been born a little earlier.
"We are committed to working within our local community to build a better future; Frank has been our inspiration, our role model, our light in a time of darkness."
Dale Banham, deputy headteacher at Northgate School, said: "Frank is a very humble individual but is a real local hero and inspiration to us all.
"It must be very rare for high school students to successfully nominate an individual for such a high award and the trials and tribulations that the students went through shows both their resilience and the esteem they have for Frank."
Frank Bright is also a patron of the Dora Love Prize, to recognise Holocaust awareness work, and has helped establish Holocaust Memorial Day events in Suffolk.
He has worked with the BBC on two internationally acclaimed documentaries and has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Suffolk.
Professor Rainer Schulze, emeritus professor of History at Essex, said: “His rapport with the students amazes me every time.
“Students of all ages, but none more than the younger ones, absolutely adore Frank.
“They might not always understand every detail of what he is telling them, but they sense that they are together with a man who has lived through unimaginable horror; who lost his parents in the concentration camp; who lost his youth and almost everything that had constituted his identity, who had to start completely afresh when he came to this country – and yet there was one thing he never lost: his humanity and his empathy.”