Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre was full last Wednesday when members came to hear Dame Esther Rantzen DBE speak at the Centre, which offers social and therapeutic support to Holocaust survivors and refugees and is the only one of its kind in the UK. The TV presenter and journalist entertained members with stories from her career including appearances in reality TV shows Strictly Come Dancing and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. She also talked about the importance of her charities ChildLine and Silverline as well as sharing views on Brexit, before chatting to members of the Centre.
She spoke movingly about the 1988 episode of That’s Life where the late Sir Nicholas Winton MBE, (d. 2015) appeared as a guest. On the special edition of the programme those who were saved by Sir Nicholas when they were brought over from Czechoslovakia on Kindertransport as children were able to thank him personally. In the programme, Esther Rantzen asked the studio audience “Can I just ask, is there anyone in our studio audience who owes their life to Nicolas Winton, if so could you stand up please.”
Speaking on Wednesday, Esther told members of the Centre ‘That episode of That’s Life was the only time I’ve ever had to stop filming because I couldn’t stop crying.”
The journalist and TV presenter also read out a letter written by Sir Nicholas Winton to Salo Gardner, an actor who came over on Kindertransport at the age of 3 and is a member of Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre and a resident of the organisation’s Clore Manor home in Hendon. In the letter, Sir Nicolas thanked Salo for a contribution which he had made in gratitude to Sir Nicholas which he later used to buy a piano. Salo worked in publishing before he became a successful actor. He was one of the studio guests on That’s Life and met Sir Nicholas Winton and the presenters.
After the visit last week, Salo Gardner, who said, “We met years ago in 1988 on That’s Life and it was really emotional for me to see Esther Rantzen again at the Holocaust Survivors’ Centre, she hasn’t changed a bit.”
Salo enjoys inspiring younger Jewish Care volunteers with stories from his unexpected and unusual film career. The actor, now in his early 80’s, has appeared in two Star Wars films, his last one was The Force Awakens (2015) and has many other film credits to his name, including Clash of the Titans, Harry Potter films and X-men. Salo’s career in the film industry began in 1963 in the Cliff Richard film Summer Holiday and other credits include appearing in the Harry Potter movies, Shaun of the Dead, Band of Brothers, Blackadder, X-Men: First Class, The Kings Speech, and Roald Dahl’s Esio Trott.