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Camden cyclists retrace route of the Kindertransport in 600-mile charity bike ride

PUBLISHED: 16:59 28 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:59 28 June 2018

James Doyan with his grandmother Gillie Rawson. Picture: James Doyan / World Jewish Relief

James Doyan with his grandmother Gillie Rawson. Picture: James Doyan / World Jewish Relief

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Cyclists from Crouch End, South Hampstead and Childs Hill cycled 600 miles from Berlin to London to retrace the steps of 10,000 Jewish children rescued by the Kindertransport initiative in the 1930s.

Anthony Rau after crossing the finish line at Liverpool Street Station. Picture Andy Tyler / World Jewish ReliefAnthony Rau after crossing the finish line at Liverpool Street Station. Picture Andy Tyler / World Jewish Relief

For Crouch End’s James Doyan, 46, taking part in the ride was an easy decision. He told the Ham&High: “A friend told me about this charity cycle from Berlin to London, and I told him to get his head examined.

“Of course, then he mentioned it was in memory of the Kindertransport and, well, I just had to do it. My grandparents came to England on it when they were barely 12, and frankly I wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t made that journey.

“It was really tough, but we followed the Kindertransport route and the idea that our relatives had all made that journey in much harder circumstances kept us going.”

Gillie Rawson, James’s 92-year-old grandmother, was at Liverpool Street station to welcome him back on Friday.

Anthony Rau, 81, was the oldest cyclist to take part. Rather than completing the ride in memory of a relative, he did so to pay tribute to his parents’ generation – in particular, Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld, who played a role in organising the Kindertransport evacuations. 
Anthony, who has lived in South Hampstead for more than half a century, told this newspaper: “It was hard but we had followed training plans and I paid heed to the experts! 
“Crossing the train tracks regularly was an emotional experience, and I was so glad to see the Frank Meisler statues in Berlin.”

One of the other cyclists was Paul Alexander, 80. Paul, who now lives in Israel, was actually one of the children evacuated.

Rebecca Singer, of Childs Hill, works for World Jewish Relief. She explained she was cycling in memory of two women who were evacuated on the Kindertransport. She said: “Before working at World Jewish Relief I had no idea about the history. It’s just astonishing.”

The cyclists began on June 17 at Frank Meisler’s Kindertransport statue in Berlin, before heading west through Germany and Holland covering approximately 100 miles each day.

The ride is thought to have raised over £150,000 for World Jewish Relief.

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