1586. Ian Forsyth
Ian Forsyth MBE, aged 96, from Lanarkshire, was one of the first British troops to liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 and has since dedicated his life to helping others through his work as a teacher and wider Holocaust education.
Ian is believed to be one of the last surviving British liberator of the camp, having served as a wireless operator with the 15th/19th King’s Royal Hussars in the The Royal Armoured Corps at the age of 21, which arrived at the gates of Bergen Belsen on 15 April 1945. He has revisited the site many times since and shared his testimony from the day to help raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust. Ian has also been an active member of ‘Legion Scotland’ and the Scottish veterans community following his days in the army, serving as president and secretary of the Hamilton branch for many years.
Ian’s award coincides with Holocaust Memorial Day, the annual day of remembrance for the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust and of subsequent acts of genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. Alongside Renee Salt, who survived Auschwitz and Belsen, Ian spoke with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on a virtual call to share his experiences.
In a personal letter to Ian, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Thank you so much for sharing your testimony with me in our call last week. Your memories of discovering the camp at Bergen Belsen and your harrowing description of all that you found there are some of the most powerful words I have ever heard.
“Every day I write to someone in our country to thank them for their service to others by naming them a Point of Light. As we mark Holocaust Memorial Day, allow me to express the admiration and gratitude of our nation for your life’s work by naming you as the UK’s 1586th Point of Light.”
Watch below: Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks with Ian Forsyth and Renee Salt to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2021