When Nicki Winton helped thousands of children to escape persecution in Europe from 1938, he saved the life of a man I later thought of as my god father. So in 2018 when I heard Lord Dubbs, who shared a train with Tommy Leden (my best friend’s father), call for support for Syrian child refugees and to march on Whitehall, I jumped.
We campaigned to bring them into Surrey. Eva Ferlez (local Lib Dem member in Walton) and I, as rowers ourselves, naturally offered to teach them to row and set about contacting local refugee charities. This is when we learned of ‘Elmbridge Can’ and I subsequently volunteered as a support worker for refugees settling in Weybridge and the surrounding area.
I have learnt so much and made great friends. I now support three refugee families locally. Their stories of the reasons for escape and their journeys to get here are terrifying, horrific and leave me feeling humble and somehow ignorant of world reality and that I could never understand their journey. We can never do enough to help. The men are so proud and determined to work to support their families; the wives are so protective, loving and enduring. Their gratitude is overwhelming and their willingness to embrace everything our country has to offer is eye opening.
These men and women are the surgeons, engineers and key workers of our county and their children a window to a new future. I can’t wait to see life in Surrey through their eyes. Maybe some of them will want to row someday too!