Two siblings, living on opposite sides of the world, came together for a special visit to the University of Worcester where a tree was planted in memory of their parents.
The oak tree was planted at the University as part of a nationwide campaign marking the 80th anniversary of the Association of Jewish Refugees, of which Annette and Peter Woolf’s parents were active members.
The University was selected as one of just 80 UK locations for the 80 Trees for 80 Years project, to honour people and places symbolising the enormous contribution made by Jewish refugees who escaped Nazi Europe and to spread messages of peace and an end to discrimination.
The tree was sponsored by brother and sister, Annette and Peter Woolf, whose parents and aunt came to live in the UK in the 1930s. John Woolf arrived penniless from Germany in 1939, after the Nazis had seized ownership of the family music business. His future wife Rita and her sister, Gaby Low, had already fled to Britain on domestic visas, working as domestics throughout the War.
Annette, who lives in Montreal, Canada, and Peter, who lives in Sydney, Australia, were unable to attend the planting ceremony. However, earlier this month they made a special trip to see the tree planted in their parents’ memory.
“It has been wonderful to be able to come and see the tree and to visit the University,” Peter said. “We chose the University of Worcester as the location to plant our tree because of its forward-thinking and inclusive approach. We did lots of research and knew about the University’s work with, and Honorary Degree awarded to Mindu Hornick, a survivor of Auschwitz and a member of AJR. Our parents loved the Malvern Hills and all together it seemed a very fitting location.”
The siblings created a time capsule, containing a document summarising the family history and including various photos, which is buried under the tree.
“We hope that in many years to come the time capsule will serve as an interesting piece of history that people will learn from,” Annette said. “We hope that it will help to educate people and help to promote tolerance and understanding.”
During their visit, Annette and Peter took a tour of the University, seeing The Hive, the Arena and the current Severn Campus development.
“This is an amazing university,” Annette said. “The Hive is a fantastic facility for the community.”
Professor David Green CBE, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University, said: “We were delighted to welcome Annette and Peter to the University to visit the tree, which they so kindly sponsored. We were honoured to be chosen as the location for their tree as part of this special campaign, which saw 80 trees planted across the UK.
“The University of Worcester was founded after the Second World War to win the peace through education, and we stand as a beacon for hope, education and democracy. This tree will serve as a continual reminder to us all to never let hatred into our lives and to stand together against all forms of racism and discrimination.”