A HUSH fell around Swindon's war memorial as people paid their respects to the victims of the Holocaust.

As the clock struck noon on Sunday dozens of people gathered around the war memorial to remember genocides throughout the world and to see a wreath laid in their memory.

Swindon Scratch Choir gave a moving accappella performance before organiser Matt Holland spoke.

"We have come here to the cenotaph, our town's place of remembrance to commemorate and remember with respect, love and as much understanding as we can manage," he said.

"We remember the women, children and men of all races and nationalities who have suffered and been persecuted in genocides.

"Not only in the Holocaust of the 1940s but other genocides around the world."

Mr Holland said Swindon had a proud history of supporting Holocaust Memorial Day since it was launched on January 27, 2001 to mark the liberation of notorious Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the United Nations convention on genocide, and 65 years since the definition of genocide was made.

As he read out the words of Martin Niemoller's poem First they came for the communists,' people in the crowd nodded their heads solemnly.

"It should not have happened and it must not happen again," said Mr Holland. "It is an honour for us to mark our respect like this. It is a small, but nevertheless significant thing we have done."

During the 20-minute ceremony Swindon Mayor Michael Barnes said Swindon was lucky to have such a diverse community, before laying the wreath.

"The borough is made up of a diverse community, which thankfully do co-exist in peace and harmony," he said.

"We are reflecting on human rights' tragedies past and present and need everyone's help to build caring, inclusive communities."

The theme of this year's Holocaust Memorial Day was Imagine - remember, reflect, react.

After the ceremony those gathered were invited back to the Friends Meeting House in Eastcott Hill for readings and reflections from members of all of the town's faiths.