About Chichester Marks Holocaust Memorial Day
WE ARE A REGISTERED CHARITY (CHARITY NUMBER: 1188265) DEDICATED TO ADVANCING THE EDUCATION OF THE PUBLIC IN THE HISTORY AND EXPERIENCES OF THE HOLOCAUST AND OTHER GENOCIDES.
In January 2015 we marked Holocaust Memorial Day in Chichester with a tribute to former Chichester Member of Parliament John Abel Smith- who campaigned so effectively for Religious and Political Rights in the mid- 1800’s.
For January 2016, the same team, now working with the University of Chichester Music Department and Chichester Cathedral, then organised the production of the opera ‘Last Train to Tomorrow’ conducted in person by its composer Carl Davis. Then, working closely with the Department of History & Politics at the University of Chichester, the team organised ‘Conspiracies -the Evil and the Good’ special film screenings at New Park Cinema on 27th January 2017.
On 27th January 2018, a performance of the Opera PUSH, composed by Howard Moody, took place at Chichester Cathedral. A second performance took place at St Paul’s, Chichester, on Wednesday 11th April 2018.
PUSH then travelled to perform at The Speaker’s Apartments, Westminster on Monday 28th January 2019 to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. The invitation only audience comprised of a cross-party selection of MP’s, Rabbis, and senior members of various jewish and refugee groups.
In 2020, we performed PUSH at the Minerva at Chichester Festival Theatre to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. We also travelled to Westbourne House and staged a performance in aid of the Sussex Snowdrops Trust.
Chichester Marks Holocaust Memorial Day Trustees:
Clare Apel (Chair)
Clare was born in York Minster U.K., her father was an Austrian Jew and so Clare was born an Austrian citizen as well as British. In 1947 her father was naturalised. She was always aware hers was not the usual British family but never quite sure why.
Clare knew her father was Jewish, but that her mother was English. She also knew that they saw a great deal of her mother’s extended family but that they only saw one of her father’s cousins. As she grew up she was aware that there were quiet voices at home talking in whispers. Learning about the history of the Holocaust, and the hardships faced by her own family has made her passionate about communicating this history.
Ralph’s father came to the UK with the Free Polish Army. Born in Kielce in 1910 he like two million other poles was called to war in late August 1939.
Captured by the Red Army he was sent to what we now call the Gulag. When Germany invaded in June 1941 Stalin made an agreement with the Polish Government-in-Exile in London so that Poles were free to leave. He made the journey from the Arctic Circle to the Caspian and joined Ander’s Army and thence via Persia, Iraq, Syria and the Mandate to Egypt. He ended up in the UK where he was on prisoner escort to the USA. In Feb 1944 he transferred to HM Forces proper and landed on D-Day.
In April 1945 he was one of the first into Bergen-Belsen. Three living skeletons walked towards him; they recognised him but not vice-versa they were connected by marriage. They informed him that ALL his blood family and spouses were dead. We are talking here of c.250 human beings. It included Ralph’s brother, sister and grandfather.
Ralph has known this since he was three.
You might, perhaps, understand his devotion and dedication to promulgating the truth.
Martyn Bell is a co-founder of Chichester Marks Holocaust Memorial Day. He was born in Brighton on 27th January 1945-the very day Auschwitz was liberated and the date which has become Holocaust Memorial Day each year.
Educated at a State Grammar School and then Manchester University, where he graduated in Economics, he has pursued a career in International Marketing & Retailing, retiring in 2000. Since then he has lived in the City of Chichester and has served as a local Councillor since 2007. In 2018/19 he was appointed Mayor of Chichester.
It was while serving as Chairman of Chichester District Council that he co-founded CMHMD with fellow Councillor Clare Apel, her husband Ralph and Trevor James in 2014/15. Martyn is Chairman of Chichester District Scouts and a Director and Trustee of the Oxmarket Centre of Arts in Chichester.
Cynara has worked for 25 years in the cultural sector for a variety of organisations including English Heritage, National Trust, Chichester Cathedral and currently for the Southampton2025 Trust.
Central to this work has been increasing access to heritage through learning and engagement for people of all ages and creating inclusive opportunities to explore and share the stories and experiences that matter to people and shape our lives. Recent projects she has developed include a Human Rights Education workshop series and a programme of learning events to mark International Day of Peace.
Mark Schwarz, lives in Chichester with his wife and three daughters. His grandparents and father escaped Leipzig, Germany in 1938, fleeing to Australia where Mark was brought up.
His great grandparents perished in the Holocaust but his father’s siblings all survived in the US, Israel and the UK.
He is the Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Mobility Technologies at Vontier Corporation, a US-listed conglomerate and is both a Trustee of CMHMD and performed in PUSH.
Jill is the Joint Artistic Director, with Kate Jones, of PUSH Chichester, performed both in Chichester since 2018 and at Speaker’s House, London. She is Vice-Chair of CMHMD to Clare Apel and is committed to bringing awareness of past and present holocausts and genocides to all ages through ongoing Arts and Education programmes.
Jill is also co-founder of Dance House with Kate Jones and is the production director for their events at The Alexandra Theatre, Bognor Regis. Dance House is an arts initiative project designed to encourage original and diverse dance work within schools and community dance groups and to provide participants with performance opportunities in a professional theatre.
Trevor James is a Chartered Accountant specialising in advice to charities. From 2005 to 2011 he was vice-chairman of the Charity Special Interest Group of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and continues to be actively involved in both formal and informal charity sector groups.
In a personal capacity, he is an Elder of Chichester’s Swanfield Chapel and a trustee of a number of local and national charities. He is married to Linda, a retired teacher who has a historical geography PhD, and they have a grown-up son and daughter.
Michael Keegan is a businessman with over 35 years experience in the Financial Services and Technology sectors. He is currently a Vice-Chair of Tech UK, A member of the Corporate Advisory Board of the Princes Trust, and holds several Non Executive Director and Advisory appointments. Michael is also a post graduate PhD student at King’s College London, War Studies Department and has a lifelong interest in Holocaust studies.
Dr Andrew WM Smith
Andrew is a historian of modern France interested particularly in ideologies and strategies of resistance, and how identities are shaped by interaction with the state. This has led him to look at wartime resistance, protest movements, and decolonization spanning the Second World War and Cold War.
Andrew is a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary History and Politics at the University of Chichester, Secretary of the Society for the Study of French History and Honorary Secretary for the Royal Historical Society.
Dr Jackie Blackman
In 2009, Jackie completed her PhD on Samuel Beckett at Trinity College, Dublin. Her thesis contains an investigation into Beckett’s personal and literary responses to Jews, WW2, the horrific suffering of the concentration camps and what followed. She has worked for much of her life in the creative sector: fashion design, interior design and as a published writer of both fiction and academic articles.
Jackie’s Jewish parents originated from Syria and Lithuania and were largely unaffected by the Holocaust as both sides had already emigrated to England and Ireland prior to the war. Her mother served as a Wren in the 40s and was in Portsmouth on D-Day. Her father assisted undercover activities to relocate Jewish refugees into Ireland in the aftermath of war.
Jackie and her husband Alan moved to West Sussex 7 years ago. During this time, they have created a much treasured and unique garden which they open to the public for the National Garden Scheme and other charities. In 2021, the garden was a finalist in the Society of Garden Garden Designer Awards. Between them Jackie and Alan have four children, three of whom live abroad, and three grandchildren.
In addition, Jackie is a Director of the Oxmarket Centre of the Arts in Chichester, a Trustee of the Friends of St. Mary’s Church Stoughton and an active participant in Jewish charities in London.