CHILDREN at a school in Sholing hosted a unique and sentimental ceremony in honour of the 75th Holocaust Memorial Day.

The ceremony took place at Sholing Junior School and centred around a newly planted tree in the school garden which grew from an acorn once found in Auschwitz by Helen Ashton, over 14 years ago.

Helen was a close friend of the school who regularly supplied books to the school library.

She picked up the acorn and brought it back to Southampton in the hopes of growing new life from a place that was only known for misery, but shortly later in 2008, she passed away of cancer when she was 37 years old.

Today year six pupils at the school presented the tree in a ceremony dedicated to Helen and all of the victims of the Holocaust by reading extracts of their work on the tragic event, and placing roses next to the tree.

Deputy Headteacher Richard Hutchingson said: "Helen was an amazing person and to go to somewhere of such misery and find a way to bring back life and growth is indicative of the person she was. It only seemed fitting to plant this as we come up to the 75th anniversary on Monday.

"I'm unbelievably proud of the kids for how they've acted learning about this and the teachers were amazing in how they taught them so sensitively and carefully. We haven't taught them the details of the Holocaust, but the impact of it on the families, the children really get it."

Also attending the ceremony was a priest who shared a prayer, Helen's family who read out a speech about her, and her since remarried husband Trevelyan, who was once a teacher at Sholing Junior School.

Dave Ashton, Helen's father, said: "This was such a brilliant time to plant the tree. This isn't just Helen's tree, this is Auschwitz's tree and this is Sholing's Tree."

Trevelyan May, who won the National Primary School Teacher of the Year Award, while teaching at the school in 2005, praised the school's "lovely gesture".

He said: "This is exactly the kind of gesture this school makes. It has always been about compassion, family and community here."