From Jewish refugee to knighthood, Erich Reich has traveled far

He motivated over 42,000 people to raise £60 million

31st December 2009: He came to Britain at the tender age of four as a Jewish refugee from the Nazis; went on to raise millions for charity; and now has been knighted in the New Year Honours List. He is none else than 74-year-old Erich Reich.

Sir Erich has encouraged and motivated over 42,000 people to raise approximately £60 million for charities. He did this through his company Classic Tours, which organises fundraising challenges overseas.

In November 1992, Sir Erich held his first charity bicycle ride. It started from Dan in the north of Israel and ended in Beersheba in the south. In the process, he raised £600,000. The money went to Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society and Ravenswood, a Jewish home for the disabled.

Born in Vienna, Austria in 1935, Sir Erich was among about 5,000 families deported by the Germans to Poland in autumn 1938. He was, in fact, one of 10,000 "Kindertransport" children sent from Nazi-occupied Europe before the start of the Second World War. Like so many other child refugees, he never saw his parents again.

Sir Erich organised last year’s celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Parliament’s decision to allow the youngsters into Britain, as chairman of the Kindertransport Group of the Association of Jewish Refugees.

Sir Erich, now lives with his wife Linda in Highgate, north London. Soon after receiving the news, he said it was a tribute to the work of his team at Classic Tours who tirelessly supported his original concept to help charities fundraise through overseas challenge events, and to his kindred spirits and fellow survivors of the Holocaust who benefited from, and in turn give back to, the Kindertransport movement.

PF judge Andrew Scadding said Sir Reich has invented an entirely new form of fundraising – and not many people do that. His challenge events have benefited tens of thousands of people and involved tens of thousands more. It’s been a very far-reaching and successful innovation and that deserves recognition.

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