Holocaust Centre North Receives KAVS Award

'Every small act of kindness contributes to a legacy of change'
Colin Petch
June 26, 2024

Following the announcement in November 2023 that Holocaust Centre North was a recipient of the prestigious King’s Award for Voluntary Service 2023, the big day finally took place last week - on Thursday 20 June, when its Kavs Award was presented to Centre Director, Alessandro Bucci by Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Ed Anderson CBE.

Alessandro Bucci commented :  "We are so very proud to have received this Kavs Award at Holocaust Centre North. The volunteer community is an essential part of what we are about and this award highlights their commitment and vital contribution to our work.

“The vital work that we do at the Centre to ensure that history is preserved and passed down the generations could not be done as effectively were it not for their time, contributions, experiences and their collective determination to raise awareness of one of the darkest chapters in contemporary history. With antisemitism and Islamophobia on the rise and the sad reality that many of our survivors are no longer with us, shedding a spotlight on the risks of baseless hatred in society is more timely and important than ever. We are truly honoured that the support our volunteers give us to help us do this – and help inspire others to value human rights, freedom and equality - is being recognised with this Award.”

The Centre's Chair and artist Jenny Kagan, High Sheriff of West Yorkshire Professor Adeeba Malik CBE DL and long serving volunteer Michael Sharp spoke at the special event that welcomed friends, supporters, guests and its vital volunteer community, with survivors and trustees also present.

Founded by survivors and their descendants as the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association (HSFA), Holocaust Centre North is more than an exhibition and learning Centre: it is a community, a source of hope, friendship and a vital hub for the region. Its volunteers participate in a diverse and vital range of projects and activities to not only tell the global story of the Holocaust but to do so through local stories from those who subsequently created new lives in the North of England.

The KAVS award is the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE. Holocaust Centre North is one of 262 local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to achieve this esteemed award this year – and only one of 29 specifically from Yorkshire.

Their work, along with others from across the UK, serves as a reminder of all the ways fantastic and selfless volunteers are contributing to their local communities and working to make life better for those around them. The King’s Award for Voluntary Service was created in 2002 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee and, following his accession, the King emphasised his desire to continue the Award. Recipients are announced annually on 14th November, the King’s Birthday.

At HCN, activities range from first and second generation survivors giving their first-hand, living testimonies to schools and community groups; volunteers working closely with staff, researchers, artists,and the Centre’s archivist to help preserve and bring the collection to life - in addition to volunteers working both remotely and Front-of-House to welcome visitors and keep the Centre running day-to-day. This Kings Award recognises these enormous contributions both its founders and over 50 regular volunteers have made and continue to make, to ensure these stories, these atrocities and these inspiring tales of survival and hope are shared and never forgotten.

Martin Kapel BEM (93), who came to the UK as a child refugee on the Kindertransport and gives talks to school in a voluntary capacity said: “Receiving the King’s Award for Voluntary Service for our organisation is a profound honour that validates the efforts of every volunteer. It's a tribute to the spirit of service over self, and to me personally, it's an affirmation that every small act of kindness contributes to a legacy of change. I and other survivors of the Holocaust gathered around Holocaust Centre North because we believe that by sharing our stories of persecution, the world can grow more compassionate. This award is a celebration of community strength."