Page last updated at 00:10 GMT, Thursday, 31 December 2009

Kindertransport refugee Erich Reich gets knighthood

Erich Reich
Sir Erich never saw his parents after arriving in the UK

A man who raised millions of pounds for charity after arriving in the UK as a four-year-old Jewish refugee from Nazi-occupied Europe is to become a knight.

Erich Reich, 74, was among 10,000 "Kindertransport" children sent to the UK before the Second World War began.

He has since inspired more than 42,000 people to raise £60m via overseas trips organised by his Classic Tours company.

Sir Erich, of Highgate, north London, said he was "overawed" to be included in the New Year Honours list.

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

Born in 1935 in Vienna, Austria, Sir Erich was among 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 Kindertransport - German for children's transport - which operated from November 1938 to the onset of war.

Like many others, he never saw his parents again.

Anniversary celebrations

Initially placed with a family in Dorking, Surrey, he moved to a Jewish school in London before going to Israel, aged 13.

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


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In November 1992, its first charity bicycle ride raised £600,000 for two charities and it now offers trekking, mountain climbing and horse riding challenges.

In 2008, as chairman of the Association of Jewish Refugees' Kindertransport group, he organised celebrations marking 70 years since Parliament allowed the youngsters into Britain.

Sir Erich is married to Linda and has five grown-up children.

He dedicated his knighthood to the Classic Tours team and to fellow Holocaust survivors.

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