A teenager who formed a close bond with Holocaust survivors during a volunteering stint drew powerful portraits of the people he said “changed his life forever”.
Gideon Summerfield, who lives in Finchley, began helping out at Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors Centre in Parson Street, Hendon last year.
After spending time at the centre, he realised each survivor had a powerful and important story to tell and met them in their homes to draw them using nothing but a biro.
He said: “I had an enormous amount of time off last summer, and after realising the survivors are in their twilight years I decided I wanted to start volunteering with them.
“I was 18 and I thought I’d understand it, I thought I was ready to hear what they had to say. I didn’t think I’d let it get to me emotionally. But during our talks, we both ended up in tears and I’m not ashamed to admit that.
“I finally felt comfortable enough to ask them if they wanted to be drawn. During each portrait, they held something precious to them to reflect their time in the Holocaust, or after.”
Many survivors held the only photographs they have of family members who died during the Holocaust or displayed the tattoos they were marked with at concentration camps.
Gideon, a second year illustration student at Cardiff University, presented them with their finished portraits last week.
He chose to use a biro instead of a paintbrush or a pencil as he found it easier to draw with.
He added: “The teenage years I had contrast with the teenage years they had. It is a moment in history we should all remember and not take our lives for granted.
“Meeting them has changed my life forever.”