New LJCC children’s centre is fitting ‘testament’ to late daughter

Lord Jonathan Sacks with Hannah and David Lewis at the opening of the Catherine Lewis Centre. Pictur

Lord Jonathan Sacks with Hannah and David Lewis at the opening of the Catherine Lewis Centre. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Archant

A youth centre opened in memory of a teacher who died from leukaemia has been described as a fitting testament by her parents.

David and Hannah Lewis were joined by the chief rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks for the official opening of the Catherine Lewis Centre at the London Jewish Cultural Centre (LJCC), in Ivy House, North End Road, Golders Green, on Wednesday last week.

The couple, who have lived in Highgate for more than 40 years, welcomed a large crowd of friends and family into the LJCC’s piazza for a moving ceremony to mark the opening of the new centre – named after their daughter, Catherine, who died from leukaemia in 1991, aged 27.

Mrs Lewis, whose three other children watched on in the audience last week, said: “It’s very special. I think Catherine would have loved it. She studied psychology but she actually became a teacher so this represents the sort of thing that she did. It’s a happy place.

“I think it helps children do something other than watch television or play video games – they learn to be creative. I think it’s a good testament to her.”

The new centre will be used to host the LJCC’s FUSION youth programme, which attracts nearly 1,000 children a year, aged eight to 18.

At the opening Lord Sacks attached a mezuzah to the new building before joining Mr and Mrs Lewis on a stage in the piazza for speeches.

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Mr Lewis, LJCC deputy chairman, told audience members: “Hannah and I, in early days, preferred anonymity but since 1991 it’s been a way we can commemorate Catherine’s memory.

“I know this particular project would be particularly close to Catherine’s heart. She loved children and qualified as a teacher and I think this is something she would approve of.”

Lord Sacks said: “I’m sure you want to join me in thanking David and Hannah Lewis for being the driving force behind this whole thing.

“David and Hannah have really given so much to this community but few things [they] have done have been more beautiful and moving than dedicating this centre to Catherine Lewis.”

As part of his visit, Lord Sacks met children from a variety of local schools enjoying a range of FUSION activities, including graffiti, animation, cookery, photography, film and singing.

For more information about the FUSION youth programme, visit