BIRTHDAY HONOURS 2017: BEM for West Hampstead Holocaust survivor who hid in a hole to escape Nazis

Holocaust survivor Sabina Miller with her mother's jumper

Holocaust survivor Sabina Miller with her mother's jumper - Credit: Archant

A 95-year-old Holocaust survivor from West Hampstead has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to interfaith cohesion and Holocaust education.

Sabina Miller at an exhibition to mark the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in April 1943 at the LJCC in 2014.

Sabina Miller at an exhibition to mark the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in April 1943 at the LJCC in 2014. - Credit: Archant

Sabina Miller, of Cannon Hill, who spent most of the war on the run from the Nazis. now works with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, sharing her experiences with thousands of people by telling her story to groups and working with the media.

She has been awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) for her work, not only to further understanding of the Holocaust but also to promote a message of tolerance and understanding.

Mrs Miller, who is celebrating her 95th birthday, told the Ham&High that she was very happy with her award. She said: “It’s a great joy and a privilege and I’m very thrilled.”

After every talk, she would tell her audience that she wants them to learn that we should all be kind and tolerant to one another, irrespective of our differences,

Mrs Miller suffered typhus as a teenager in the Warsaw ghetto in 1940 and was unconscious for 18 days.

When she awoke her parents were gone and she would never see them again.

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In an interview in 2012, she told the Ham&High: “I don’t even know who looked after me. All I know is that when I woke up after 18 days they weren’t there anymore.”

She spent most of the war on the run from the Nazis and their informers, once living through the bitter 1942-1943 Polish winter in a makeshift hole in a forest in northern Poland.

The survivor said: “Some farmers knew of a hole left by partisan fighters. We lived in that hole. You had to slide into it.”

The frost ravaged Mrs Miller’s body so badly that she would later have to have part of her foot amputated.

One night the teenage girl she shared her cave with, her only companion in the world, vanished without trace.

“My enduring feeling was pain, emotional pain. Sometime I would ask myself, why am I alive?”

She has still not given up on the search for a trace of her parents, grandparents or siblings and still cherishes a cardigan given to her by her mother.

Nine years ago she visited Auschwitz and she regularly phones the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw to see if restoration work on the graves has uncovered any trace of her lost relatives.

Mrs Miller has reached thousands of people through videos, articles and interviews in print and online talking about her experiences.

She also played a central role in Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2015, which marked the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

In 2015, Mrs Miller was awarded the Freedom of the City of London for her work in Holocaust awareness.

Others awarded the MBE from Camden include a West Hampstead man who has dedicated his skills helping people with sight impairment.

Gordon Cuthbert Griffin, 74, of 20 Canfield Gardens, is the top audio book recording artist in the world, recording over 750 audio books – from Homer to Catherine Cookson – helping the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

“When I was told I was to get an MBE I was astonished.

“I’ve recorded some of the greatest books ever written - Gogol, Defoe, Orwell, Graham Greene, George Elliott as well as the latest whodunnit or even a novel from the Booker list.

“I also go around the country talking about audiobooks and give readings and am currently putting the final touches to my autobiography. The MBE is the icing on an already rich cake!”

Dentist Dr Linda Greenwall was also awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in recognition of her services to dentistry and charity in the UK and overseas.

Dr Greenwall, who runs Hampstead Dental Clinic, set up the Dental Wellness Trust.

It launched the Good Deed toothbrush initative to supply three million toothbrushes to those without access to even the most basic oral healthcare.

Dr Greenwall said: “As a dentist I consider it a good deed to brush your own teeth and to help others to do the same is doubly good.

“So the message is simple: when you buy a Good Deed Toothbrush, we give one to a child in need”.

The Dental Wellness Trust also supervises tooth brushing programmes for 1 million children in South Africa and elsewhere in the world.

Awards in Westminster include a “super recogniser” in the metropolitan police, whose skills have helped convict dozens of criminals.

Officer Idris Bada, based in Westminster, has received a British Empire Medal for services to policing.

Mr Bada has the highest number of positive identifications for criminals who were “caught on camera” in the police force.

This has resulte in burglars, thieves and fraudsters being convicted at court.

Mr Bada said: “I am grateful and honoured to receive this award.

“I am still in the pursuit of perfection in all aspects of my everyday job.”

In Muswell Hill, performing arts charity principal Emily Byron received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her outstanding work and contribution to children, young people and the community in performing arts.

Ms Byron set up children’s charity The New London Performing Arts Centre (NLPAC) in Muswell Hill more than two decades ago in order to give children and young people access to affordable, high-quality performing arts provision and provide them with a means of expression in a safe, nurturing environment.

In Belsize Park, Ade Hassan, founder and director of Nubian Skin, has received an MBE for services to fashion.

The award was made in recognition of Ade’s commitment to her mission to redefine “nude” through her brand Nubian Skin, which provides skin-toned underwear for women of colour.

Ms Hassan said: “I really am so humbled and incredibly grateful to be receiving this.

“It’s not something I could ever have imagined.”