SWINDON will fall silent to remember those who lost their lives during the Holocaust later this month.

Scores of people are expected to gather at the Cenotaph on January 27 to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and the theme for this year’s service is ‘The Power of Words – for good or evil’.

The poignant commemoration not only marks the day when the Auschwitz concentration camps were liberated in 1945 but also honours victims from other atrocities in history.

The town's memorial is organised by Matt Holland who hopes Swindonians come out to support the service as many have done so in previous years.

“This year’s theme makes it doubly important that people come along because the reasons are two-fold,” he said.

“First it is a memorial just as there are other national memorials throughout the year to remember people who lost their lives in grim circumstances but secondly in my mind, the theme is spot on to make us think of how things can get worse by the things we say to one another.

“The words we choose with which we speak to one another strike me as crucial in how we behave to and how we feel and think about one another.”

During the memorial at the Cenotaph in Regent Circus, there will be a short wreath-laying ceremony, with mayor Maureen Penny in attendance.

This will then be followed by a gathering at 12.30pm at the Friends Meeting House, Eastcott Hill, where readings and presentations will be made by members of Swindon's many faith groups and community groups in addition to school pupils and contributions from other individuals.

Holocaust Memorial Day was first marked nationally in 2001, and is now established as an annual day of remembrance.

Swindon has held a service every January for the last 17 years.

Matt added: “I find that variety and difference in people is what gives us cultural richness and a lot of that is determined by what we hear and the words we use.

“While it is a memorial service, what we have noticed in recent years is people coming together to smile and chat to one another even if they don’t know each other.

“Those are people of different races, backgrounds and classes but this memorial brings people together.

“Swindon will continue to hold this memorial for years to come and I am pleased that so many people support it.”

Anyone with appropriate personal stories or readings is welcome to speak or read at the gathering, and is asked to contact Matt Holland at 01793 771080 or matt@lowershawfarm.co.uk beforehand.