Mersey Care has joined The Walton Centre in a special ceremony to mark Holocaust Memorial Day with the unveiling of a plaque to celebrate the actions of neurosurgeon Sir Geoffrey Jefferson and his wife Gertrude in giving a home to four unknown German refugees fleeing from persecution in 1939.
The plaque was unveiled by Beatrice Fraenkel, chairman of Mersey Care, whose mother was one of four refugees given a home by the couple. At the time, her mother was a teenager, speaking no English, and not knowing what was happening to the rest of her family.
The compassionate actions of the Jeffersons echo the theme of ‘Stand Together’ at this year’s worldwide commemorations of Holocaust Memorial Day, which also marks 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
Pictured (left to right): Andrew Lynch, Equality and Inclusion Lead at the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Michael Crilly, Director of Social Inclusion and Participation at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Joe Rafferty, Chief Executive at Mersey Care, Beatrice Fraenkel, Chairman of Mersey Care, Jane Shearer, Sir and Lady Jefferson’s granddaughter, Janet Rosser, Chairman of the Walton Centre, Jan Ross, Director of Operations and Strategy at the Walton Centre and Michael Fraenkel, husband of Beatrice.
Mrs Fraenkel attended the ceremony alongside her husband Michael, Sir and Lady Jefferson’s granddaughter Jane Shearer, Mersey Care’s Chief Executive Joe Rafferty, The Walton Centre’s Chair Janet Rosser and Chief Executive Hayley Citrine.
“The plaque is a very important recognition of the values of a couple who were willing to take in and give a home to four unknown people,” said Mrs Fraenkel. “The Jeffersons were not Jewish and had no previous connection with the Jewish community that I’m aware of, but they gave my mother a true home and it was fantastic their granddaughter, Jane, was able to attend the unveiling.
“As the plaque says, ‘they embraced the common humanity that lies at the heart of us,’ and it was a great privilege to be able to honour their generosity and compassion in this way.”
The Walton Centre’s Chair, Janet Rosser, said: “I’m delighted that we could mark this important remembrance day. We see the Jefferson name here at the Trust every day, so it’s fascinating to hear about the family’s humanity as well as mark it in this way.
“This plaque will ensure that visitors to Jefferson Ward will know of their efforts during the Second World War.”