A 64-year-old man says he would not have traced his family without the help of the British Red Cross – a charity which is in the process of raising awareness about the work it does and attract more volunteers.
The family tracing unit of the British Red Cross helped Ron Ibbitson, of Castle View, Clitheroe, find out more about his mother Ruth Gertrude Peschel’s family after she died in 2002 aged 79.
Just before her death she gave Ron a shoe box which told the story of how Ruth, as a young Jewish girl, came over to Britain from Germany leaving all her family behind during the Second World War.
“I wanted to trace all the people who were named in this shoe box,” Ron explained.
Thanks to the British Red Cross, Ron managed to find out when and where his mum’s brother, his uncle, had perished in the death camps. He also found out that he has two half uncles, on his granddad’s side, one of which he later got in contact with.
Years before this, the British Red Cross had traced his grandma, his mum’s mother, for his mother Ruth and her details were also in the shoe box. His grandma had been in Auschwitz and the British Red Cross traced her to Israel where she lived before returning to Germany.
Ron and his wife Barbara have now been invited by officials at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria to be VIP guests next month for the dedication of a memorial book and the erection of a statue in memory of the 9,000 Jews who perished at the camp.
Ron retold this story to British Red Cross volunteers at a recent event that aimed to raise awareness about the work of the charity and recruit more volunteers staged at Clitheroe’s NatWest bank.
A display providing information about the charity was set up in the bank manned by some of the charity’s volunteers. A cake sale and raffle was also held with £342-21 raised.
The branch’s manager Tanny Younis said: “The British Red Cross do so much and we wanted to help raise awareness about what they do in the community. Most people associate the charity with natural disasters, but they do so much more.”
One of the bank’s members of staff, Andrew Sando’s wife is a professional cake maker, and she baked and decorated buns with the British Red Cross symbol on the top to be sold in the branch.
A raffle was also held with prizes donated by local businesses. These included a three-course meal for two at The Shireburn Arms at Hurst Green, afternoon tea for two at Bashall Barn and a £25 gift voucher for The Pavilion Coffee House and Brasserie.
The British Red Cross provides a diverse and varied range of services including a carers’ support service and emergency first aid. Volunteers were also heavily involved with the aid effort during the Boxing Day floods that affected Whalley and Billington.
The charity is in the process of setting up a new Community Fundraising Group in the Ribble Valley to attract more funding and volunteers.
Anyone who would like to become involved with this new local group can contact Tracey Crich by calling 07738 944551 or by email – firstname.lastname@example.org