THE son of a Jewish couple who took refuge in Hampshire during the Holocaust has helped plant a tree in their memory.

David Kett, 75, attended a ceremony yesterday at Southampton Common Park to mark Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Day.

A native oak tree was planted by the Association of Jewish Refugees to mark its 80th anniversary and to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.

The tree was also planted in memory of Mr Brian's parents, a Czechoslovakian couple who found refuge in Hampshire. 

He told the gathered crowd about his own experiences and those of his parents, who were Jewish refugees.

He said: "My father sent my mother to the UK on a domestic visa, where she joined the 20,000 Jewish women who used this method of gaining sanctuary from Nazi persecution."

After the Nazis occupied Prague, David's father, along with a few family members, managed to reunite with his wife. 

While some of David's relatives managed to find a safe passage to the UK and build a life here, the rest perished. 

When asked how he feels about his parents and relatives several attempts to flee, David said: "They had to escape, otherwise they would have perished, and they did not have much choice."

People of all faiths attended the event, with a choral service and the recitation of Jewish prayers.

The annual event on January 27 each year honours all those murdered in the Holocaust and other genocides.

The theme this year was One Day, with people invited to pick a day in genocide history and learn about it.

Professor Tony Kushner, from the University of Southampton, specialises in Jewish history. He helped organise the event.

Prof Kushner told the Daily Echo: "Southampton, as a port and a thriving town, was one of the places of entry for the refugees.

"It has welcomed refugees who have contributed really massively in so many different ways.

"Today reflects that Southampton should be proud of that traditional welcome, should be proud of those who came to settle here and contributed to it.

"The tree also represents kindness that was given to strangers, and I think it is a very valuable and important message."

The service was part of a week-long series of events in the city to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.