Fri 10 Feb 17
This year’s Dora Love Prize saw more schools taking part than ever before – each creating inspirational Holocaust awareness projects to educate their peers and their communities.
Thanks to the huge level of interest from schools in Essex and Suffolk the Lakeside Theatre at the University of Essex’s Colchester Campus was packed for the annual presentation evening where the students showcased the projects they have worked on since September last year.
Before presenting their projects, they had a chance to hear from Holocaust survivor Frank Bright from Ipswich – who had influenced many of their projects and who spoke about his experiences following the Second World War when he came to the UK trying to rebuild his life.
This year’s theme was ‘How can life go on?’, the official theme of Holocaust Memorial Day 2017. Students were asked to reflect on the aftermath of the Holocaust and of subsequent genocides then consider the challenging questions faced by individuals, communities and nations. In their projects they investigated what happens after genocide, our own responsibilities in the wake of such a crime and how we deal today with prejudice, discrimination and marginalisation of people who are regarded as “other” or “different”.
All schools were praised for the way they had risen to the challenge with the Sandon School in Chelmsford and William Edwards School in Grays selected as joint winners.
The other schools taking part were Brentwood Ursuline Convent High School, The Bromfords School and Sixth Form College in Wickford, The Ongar Academy, Maltings Academy in Witham, Northgate High School in Ipswich, Sybil Andrews Academy in Bury St Edmunds and Tendring Technology College.
Founder of the Dora Love Prize Professor Rainer Schulze said: “The response of the nine schools we invited to present their projects at the Lakeside Theatre was absolutely amazing and heart-warming; they showed a maturity, dedication, commitment and enthusiasm which one – perhaps – does not always associate with this age group.
“All projects did what the Dora Love Prize is all about: look at the past, and look at the world today, both the broader world and their local communities; explore how far discrimination, marginalisation and prejudice are still alive, and against which groups they are directed.”
Professor Schulze highlighted the amount of work undertaken by pupils from the Sandon School including interviews with Paralympians, outreach work at a local primary on tolerance and prejudice, and campaigning for a change in the curriculum on the Holocaust to better reflect the complex responses of the communities targeted. He said: “The judges were impressed by the range of activities that Sandon pupils engaged in, the reflection of the present in the light of the knowledge of the past, and the commendable outreach work.”
The breadth of the work at William Edwards School was highly commendable Professor Schulze said: “Here the judges were particularly impressed by the work across disciplines, combining history, dance, art and music. The judges found the confidence and maturity of the students extremely impressive, and equally their outreach work: joint assemblies and work with their linked primary schools.”
Kate Beckwith, from Arts Outreach at the University of Essex, said the way students had developed their ideas after the initial induction day talks and workshops had been incredible: “We were delighted to see such innovative projects presented back so confidently by the groups, referencing their inspiration and demonstrating their ambition for the future. The young people we work with always demonstrate a real understanding of the purpose and meaning of the Dora Love Prize. This year though, the variety of projects, and the commitment and creativity displayed, was on a new level entirely.”
Dora Love, a Holocaust survivor, spent much of her life raising awareness that the attitudes which made the Holocaust possible – intolerance, discrimination and outright hatred of those who are regarded as ‘different’ for whatever reason – are still alive all around us. Whilst the specific circumstances of the Holocaust are unlikely to recur, we need to learn from the past in order to act responsibly in the present and shape a joint future for all where no one is excluded.
Dora Love died on 26 October 2011, and the Dora Love Prize continues her work. It is awarded each year for the best Holocaust awareness project by an individual pupil or group of pupils of a school in Essex or Suffolk. Currently it is only open to years 7 to 10. The Prize goes to the project which expresses best that which was most important to Dora Love: speaking up against hatred wherever it occurs, never forgetting the ultimate consequence of seemingly small acts of discrimination and developing a sense of personal responsibility.
The Dora Love Prize evening always takes place in the week leading up to or including Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp by Soviet troops in 1945.
The judging panel included Janet Love, daughter of Dora Love, who is currently the National Director of the South African Legal Resources Centre and Commissioner on the South African Independent Electoral Commission. Other judges were Dr Anthony Grenville from the Association of Jewish Refugees; Dr James Ingram from The Prince’s Trust International, and formerly from René Cassin; Jim Davies, founder and until recently chair of the UK Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association; Dr Nadine Rossol, Department of History, University of Essex; Dr Antonella Castelvedere, Department of English, University of Suffolk; Dr Antony Penrose, son of photographer Lee Miller and director of the Lee Miller Archive and Penrose Collection; and Tanya White, a close friend of Dora Love.