Holocaust Memorial Day Youth Champions

An account by Nathan Claughan and Corey Dodds

We were chosen to represent NDA at the Holocaust Memorial Day Youth Champions event in Nottingham on Saturday 12th March, as we had taken part in a creative writing competition which provided the focus for our Holocaust Memorial Day display in the atrium.

It was an early start as we had to get the train from Durham station just after half past eight. Before we boarded the train, we got some hot chocolate from Costa and Nathan tried (and failed) to dislodge a bonus pack of sweets from the vending machine!

When we got on the train, it was already packed and one of our booked seats had been taken so we sat in the ones opposite. As the train left the station, we started on our breakfast, a family pack of cheesy Doritos and a bag of sweaty wine gums…delicious! Corey used Snapchat to find out how fast we were travelling- it was 111 mph!

A couple of hours later, we arrived at Newark to change trains for Nottingham. The train was nothing like the one we had just got off, it was a proper rattler, it was very noisy and the seats were extremely uncomfortable. Good job we weren’t on it very long!

We arrived in Nottingham, craving some food and desperate for a McDonald’s. We asked for directions and were glad it wasn’t very far away! As we walked to the venue, Corey was shocked when a tram came up behind him quietly, Nathan told him it was so quiet because it was powered by electricity.

We arrived at the Galleries of Justice and were directed to the room where we were to spend the afternoon and were welcomed by the organisers.

There were several other people already at our table so we all introduced ourselves. The first thing we did was take part in an embarrassing icebreaker, it was the cringiest thing I have ever done in my life!

We had a break for coffee and then listened to some of the Youth Champions talking about their contributions to H.M.D. Several other speakers followed, talking about the Holocaust and the atrocities which followed. One tried to skype a colleague in Rwanda to answer our questions but the WiFi reception wasn’t strong enough so he had to answer them himself. Throughout the afternoon, we were joined by several survivors of the Holocaust and were given the chance to talk to them during afternoon tea. The two we spoke to, gave harrowing accounts of their experiences during their time in the death camps and then gave us an insight into the effect it had on their lives and how they coped with the horrors they saw. We could have listened to them all afternoon!

Just before the award ceremony, the CEO of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust informed us of the theme for HMD17, which is ‘How Can Life Go On’, which, considering our conversations with the survivors was very apt!

The event was brought to a close by the award ceremony, where we were given certificates and had our photographs taken.

As we waited for our taxi back to the station, a posh car pulled up and the Lord Mayor of Nottingham and her consort got out. We had our photo taken with them and a youth group from Durham. A little later, the chauffeur gave us all badges.

The journey home was eventful, to begin with, our train to Newark had been delayed so we had to get a different one to Sheffield and then one from Sheffield to Durham. The journey home seemed much quicker than the journey there!

We had a great time, it was an unforgettable and unique experience!

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