Carole’s Story

Carole Gillespie is Scotland National Support Worker at the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Carole was one of the candle lighters during Scotland’s national Holocaust Memorial Day event.

During the ceremony, six candles are lit to mark the 6 million Jews murdered in the holocaust; the Roma community; disabled people; those murdered because of their sexuality; those muredered in subsequent genocides, Rwanda, Cambodia, Darfur and Bosnia; those suffering in current conflicts.

I am privileged again this Holocaust Memorial Day to light a candle to remember all of the disabled people who were killed in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

As Support Worker for Scotland for the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust you would think this was a natural part of my role.  And you would be right.  But lighting the candle for the disabled victims has a deeper personal meaning for me.

My daughter is 19.  She is a happy, gregarious young lady; unfortunately she also has complex learning difficulties.  Obviously this has a big impact on her life and the lives of our family.  She is non-verbal, and needs 24 hour care and supervision.  Despite this she lives a happy, varied life and I think I speak for all members of our family and close friends when I say we have learned so much from her.  Ironically, she has been supported for the last 11 years by a Jewish charity, Cosgrove Care, who have saved our sanity and given my daughter a great deal of happiness.

So when I light the memorial candle for Holocaust Memorial Day, I think of my daughter of course.  I think about the T4 programme instigated by the Nazis to eliminate people with a disability or learning difficulty.  I think of all the joy my daughter has brought us.  I think of all the young people she went to school with, with a variety of disabilities, who have given me some of the happiest and most profoundly moving moments of my life when they excelled in the school show or took part in Reels on Wheels, their wheelchair Scottish country dancing.

I think of attending her ASN school’s HMD memorial, listening to the choir of young people singing music from Ghetto as they remembered everyone who has perished in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides with a simple yet deep humanity.

And I reflect on how lucky we are to live here, in Scotland, and be able to remember HMD and its victims with these remarkable young people as they commemorate those who were not as fortunate as themselves.

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Author: Paul Daly

Parliamentary & Media Freelancer at Interfaith Scotland, Advocacy & Activism Officer at Amnesty International in Scotland and board member of Friends of the Earth Scotland.

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