Holocaust survivor Liane Segal has been selected by Lewisham’s Labour Mayor Damien Egan as the borough’s official Mayoress, following a number of anti-Semitism accusations against his party.
Mrs Segal, 86, escaped Vienna in 1939 in the Kindertransport rescue mission, which brought almost 10,000 children to Britain from central and eastern Europe nine months before the start of WWII.
A retired clothes designer, the mother of three fills her spare time running events for the older residents of Lewisham and Bromley, and is a regular attendee of Catford Synagogue on Crantock Road.
As mayoress, Mrs Segal, of Mottingham, will accompany Egan to civic functions and events, working as a figurehead for the borough.
The role, which is called ‘mayor’s consort’ when taken by a man, has traditionally been given to the partner or other family member of the mayor. Egan claims his decision to instead select Segal, stands as a symbol of Lewisham’s openness to refugees and migrants from across the globe.
In an official statement Mrs Segal said: “Lewisham is stronger because of our history in welcoming residents from all corners of the world. I hope that by sharing my story, others will see it is as important as ever to provide sanctuary for people fleeing persecution.”
I am delighted to announce that Liane Segal will be my Mayoress of Lewisham for the next year. Liane fled Nazi occupied Europe on the Kindertransport aged 7. Liane has been a longstanding campaigner against racism & antisemitism. Let’s share her story. We are #RefugeesWelcome!🌈 pic.twitter.com/ga9xhVAaGx
— Damien Egan (@damienegan) May 10, 2018
Egan praised Mrs Segal as a “longstanding campaigner against racism and anti-Semitism”, two traits his Labour party have recently been accused of, beginning with outrage at comments made by MP for Bradford West, Naz Shah, in 2016.
According to figures released by The Independent, over 300 complaints of anti-Semitism have been made against Labour in the last three years, around half of which have led to individuals being suspended, expelled, or leaving the party.
Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “Appointing a Kindertransport refugee to this position sends a clear signal that Lewisham welcomes refugees and encourages everyone to learn more about the Holocaust, at a time when anti-Semitism and racism are on the rise across Europe.”