Kindertransport: Swanage statue for 'Purbeck Schindler' Trevor Chadwick

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Kindertransport children at Dovercourt Bay, led by Trevor ChadwickImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Trevor Chadwick, dubbed the "Purbeck Schindler", helped rescue 669 children from Czechoslovakia

An "unsung hero" who helped save hundreds of children destined for Nazi concentration camps is to be honoured with a statue in his hometown.

Trevor Chadwick, dubbed the "Purbeck Schindler", helped Sir Nicholas Winton rescue 669 children from Czechoslovakia ahead of World War Two.

The Trevor Chadwick Memorial Trust is raising £80,000 for a statue to be placed in Swanage, Dorset.

His cousin, Annie Bridger, said his family was "very proud" of his efforts.

John Corben, chair of the Trevor Chadwick Memorial Trust, said: "There is a bronze statue of Sir Nicholas Winton on Prague Railway Station and we feel it would be appropriate to erect a similar memorial to Trevor in his hometown, to remember an unsung hero who made such a difference to so many lives."

Image source, David Sedlecky/Creative Commons
Image caption,
There are statues of Sir Nicholas Winton at Prague (pictured) and Maidenhead railways stations

Mrs Bridger, 67, from Swanage, whose father was Mr Chadwick's cousin - making him her second cousin - said they spent time together in her late teens when her family holidayed in Oslo, Norway, where he spent most of his life with his German wife Sigrid.

"He had TB [tuberculosis] and went there to recuperate - the fresh air there helped him to recover," she said.

"He relapsed every time he tried to return."

He worked at academic publisher Oslo University Press, having previously been a school teacher.

'Very proud'

Mrs Bridger recalled his "wonderful wit" and described the plan for a statue in his memory as "a wonderful thing".

"I only discovered in the last few years what he had done and I was bowled over," she added.

"The family are very, very proud of him".

His wife, known as "Siggy", was 28 years his junior and died four years ago of cancer, Mrs Bridger said.

Image source, Wikimedia Commons
Image caption,
Mr Chadwick was born in Swanage but spent most of his life in Norway

Mr Chadwick, who died in 1979 aged 72, worked with Sir Nicholas, who lived in Maidenhead, Berkshire, until his death in 2015 aged 106, to find British families willing to put up £50 to look after the children in their homes.

Their efforts, along with those of their colleagues - Doreen Warriner, Nicholas Stopford, Beatrice Wellington, Josephine Pike and Bill Barazetti - were not publicly known for almost 50 years.

They organised a total of eight trains - known as Kindertransport - from Prague, and their work has been likened to that of the "saviour" of Jewish prisoners, Oskar Schindler.

'Great danger'

Though Sir Nicholas was knighted in March 2003 he had insisted Mr Chadwick, who stayed in Prague to organise the evacuations, had been the real hero.

"He had to deal with the authorities, putting his life in great danger," said Mr Corben.

It is hoped the statue will be placed at the town's recreation ground, close to its war memorial, and be unveiled in 2022.

"We would very much like to trace at least one of the children that Trevor brought back," Mr Corben said.

Swanage Town Council said it "wholeheartedly backed the campaign to publicly commemorate the vitally important role played by Trevor Chadwick in the Kindertransport programme".

The seafront play park would also be renamed in Mr Chadwick's honour and a memorial tree planted, the authority added.

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