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Refugee who fled from Nazis knighted

A man who came to Britain as a four-year-old Jewish refugee from the Nazis and went on to raise millions for charity is knighted in the New Year Honours List today.

Erich Reich, 74, was one of 10,000 "Kindertransport" children sent from Nazi-occupied Europe to safety in the UK before the start of the Second World War.

As chairman of the Kindertransport Group of the Association of Jewish Refugees, he organised last year's celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Parliament's decision to allow the youngsters into Britain.

Sir Erich has also inspired more than 42,000 people to raise around 60 million for charities through his company Classic Tours, which organises fundraising challenges overseas.

Born in Vienna, Austria in 1935, he was among about 5,000 families deported by the Germans to Poland in autumn 1938.

He arrived in Britain at the end of August 1939 as part of the Kindertransport ("children's transport") which ran from the anti-Jewish Kristallnacht pogrom in November 1938 until the start of the war.

Like many of the other child refugees, he never saw his parents again.

Sir Erich was initially placed with a family in Dorking, Surrey, before moving to a Jewish school in London and then going to live in Israel at the age of 13.

He returned to London in 1967 and worked for Thomson Holidays and Thomas Cook before setting up Classic Tours in 1987.

In November 1992 he organised his first charity bicycle ride from Dan in the north of Israel to Beersheba in the south, raising 600,000 for the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society and Ravenswood, a Jewish home for the disabled.

Classic Tours now offers fundraising challenges all over the world,

including cycling, trekking, mountain climbing and horse riding.

Sir Erich, who now lives with his wife Linda in Highgate, north London, and has five grown-up children, said he was "overawed" to be knighted for his services to charity.

He said: "It is a tribute to the work of my team at Classic Tours who tirelessly support my original concept to help charities fundraise through overseas challenge events, and to my kindred spirits and fellow survivors of the Holocaust who benefited from, and in turn give back to, the Kindertransport movement.

"I want to thank the people of Britain for allowing the Kinder to come to the UK and for this amazing honour."

 
 
 

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