Welcome to Kindertransport 77 Years
My name is Peter Hedderly and I got involved in this completely by accident. I’m not Jewish and I have no family connection to the Kinder or the Kindertransports, yet it has still had a profound effect on my life. I have worked in the field of railway tourism for over 25 years, having organised thousands of group railway journeys, particularly in Eastern Europe and Russia. It was in this context that a colleague from Czech Railways asked me in 2007 if I would help him with the British leg of a Prague to London steam train which he had been detailed to organise. This became the “The Winton Train” which ran in 2009 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the conclusion of the Czech Kindertransports, an operation which under Nicholas Winton saved 669 endangered mostly Jewish children and was part of a much larger rescue effort whereby a recorded 9,354 unaccompanied children were brought to the UK between 2nd December 1938 and 2nd September 1939.
The special steam trains - a European train from Prague to Hook of Holland and a separate British train from Harwich to London Liverpool Street - cost around a quarter of a million Euros, excluding the cost of the ferry crossing and the two overnight hotel stays in Nuremburg and Cologne. No tickets were sold and the journey was for invited guests only, including politicians, VIPs, school children who had won competitions, plus twenty three of the original “children” and some of their children and grandchildren making up the 200 or so guests on board. One of the original “children” from 1939, Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines, described it “I think this has been the second most important journey of our lives”.
Our day trips are dedicated to commemorating the Kindertransports and all those who arranged them, to maintaining the education of today’s children about this history, and to assisting those who - irrespective of race or religious belief - find themselves displaced or uprooted by persecution, war or threat of war in the 21st century. This project is not commercial, but a “sideline” to my real day job. All proceeds above direct operating costs from these events and day trips will go to the Nicholas Winton Foundation which is supporting a number of charitable causes for child refugee and disadvantaged children. For further details see here…