Thursday June 6 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
I am very aware that had D-Day failed and had the Nazis invaded Britain, my family would not be alive today. They would probably have been murdered in Auschwitz.
Like many people of my generation, I am increasingly aware of the bravery of those involved in D-Day. It is extraordinary to think that thousands of soldiers, sailors, pilots and many, many others performing vital and dangerous tasks, were younger than me.
I want to pay tribute to their sacrifice and courage, so to mark this important anniversary, I will be working on a series of portraits of D-Day veterans through the year.
In recent weeks I have been privileged to meet Harry Billinge, a 18 year old Sapper with the Royal Engineers, who landed on Gold Beach at 0630 on June 6 1944; Rose Davies, a 102 year old (!) who was a radio operator on D-Day; Mervyn Kersh who landed on Sword Beach, 3 days after D-Day on June 9 1944, who was introduced to me by the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX); Lance Bombardier Arthur Jones (aged 94 and in fine fettle) who drove a Sherman Tank ( a ‘Hobart Funny’) through Normandy, into Belgium and then Germany; and George Skipper (96) who fought in the Normandy Campaign and now lives at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.
In June I will be in Normandy for a week or so. I will be the guest of The Normandy Institute, who are bringing British, American, Canadian and French veterans together at a chateau for a very special lunch. And on the day of the anniversary - June 6 - plans are being made for me to meet a number of D Day veterans who are being brought to Bayeux by the Royal British Legion. This will be a unique opportunity to meet them and draw their portraits.