Teacher to be awarded medal from Czech government for work with village destroyed by Nazis

Stephen Spencer, head of sixth form at Thetford Grammar School.

Stephen Spencer, head of sixth form at Thetford Grammar School. - Credit: Archant

A teacher is set to be recognised by the Czech government for his role in highlighting the tragedy of a village which was completely destroyed by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Stephen Spencer, head of sixth form at Thetford Grammar School, is to be given the Commemorative Medal of the Lidice Memorial on June 11 at a special ceremony in the Czech Republic.

The event, held annually, will this year commemorate the 74th anniversary of the destruction of the village of Lidice on June 10, 1942.

The razing of Lidice, sparked by the assassination of a high-ranking Nazi official, saw all the village's adult males executed, all women and children transported to concentration camps, and the village completely levelled.

Mr Spencer's award comes after ten years of work with the village - which was restored on a site near to its original setting - including organising trips for students, translating pages from their memorial website into English, and raising awareness of an international arts competition held each year in its memory.

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Mr Spencer, 61, retires from teaching this summer and has previously worked for the Home Office. He said he was humbled by the award.

'It's a big surprise and a proud moment. I have done this work to educate children in the bigger sense of the word; to show them something outside their normal lessons and curriculum,' he said.

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Lidice now hosts a world-class art gallery and public works of art to mark its history.

Mr Spencer, who lives in Risby near Bury St Edmunds, said the story of Lidice was a stark lesson.

'It's a reminder of what happens when certain types of power go unchecked, and things go wrong.

'Going there and seeing the public art, which includes sculptures of faceless children, is a sombre and moving experience,' he said.

Have you been recognised for an achievement? Email andrew.fitchett@archant.co.uk

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