RantzenandWeb­ber­area distinc­tive pair of win­ners

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY NEWS - BYROSADOHERTY Women in Gold Daily Mail,

DAME ES­THER Rantzen and Anne Web­ber­w­ere­honoured­fortheir­re­spec­tive achieve­ments of es­tab­lish­ing Child­line and co-chair­ing the Com­mis­sion for Looted Art in Europe at Jewish Care’s an­nual Woman of Dis­tinc­tion lunch.

Ad­dress­ing the 180 guests in cen­tral Lon­don on Mon­day, Ms Web­ber said: “Since the film [about the bat­tle to re­claim a paint­ing looted by the Nazis], peo­ple think my work is all glam­orous. It is not.

“Our work is very dif­fi­cult and we work in a tough en­vi­ron­ment, so it is a source of great en­cour­age­ment to be recog­nised.”

Her big­gest frus­tra­tion was that “so many coun­tries and mu­se­ums won’t ac­knowl­edge what art they have and won’t make it pos­si­ble for peo­ple to get back what be­longs to them.

“It is very dis­tress­ing for fam­i­lies. The mean­ing of ob­jects is of great im­por­tance. From paint­ings of great value to books worth a pound, we fight hard for ev­ery sin­gle one.”

She was pre­sented with her award by Su­san Sch­laen, 60, a res­i­dent at the char­ity’s Sid­ney Corob House in West Hamp­stead for adults with men­tal health is­sues, which will ben­e­fit from the event’s £55,000 pro­ceeds.

Ms Sch­laen lives with bipo­lar dis­or­der and is re­mis­sion from lung can­cer. “I have been at Sid­ney Corob for eight years,” she said. “I have re­ally bad anx­i­ety and manic de­pres­sive at­tacks but the staff make me feel safe and at home.”

An­other Sid­ney Corob res­i­dent, Leah Phillips, handed Dame Es­ther her award.

The re­cip­i­ent spoke both about Child­line and the Sil­ver Line, a con­fi­den­tial hot­line for the el­derly.

“Af­ter my hus­band died, when I down­sized from my house to a flat, I was liv­ing alone for the first time and I was lonely,” she re­called. “There was no­body to talk to when I closed the door at night.

“So I did what I al­ways, do, I wrote to the this time about the is­sue of lone­li­ness. The Sil­ver Line char­ity was born out of the re­sponse from the pub­lic.”

Dame Es­ther added that hear­ing guest speaker — men­tal health cam­paigner Jonny Ben­jamin — talk about his ex­pe­ri­ences was a sig­nal to oth­ers to be “more open about men­tal health prob­lems.

“I had post-natal de­pres­sion. There cer­tainly was a stigma at that time and there still is one now.

“We hear from a lot of young peo­ple who get in touch with Child­line who are suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion or sui­ci­dal thoughts. I’m des­per­ately aware of the stigma that si­lences them and pre­vents them from ask­ing for help.”

San­dra Sain­tus, man­ager of Sid­ney Corob House, said: “As women who talk about men­tal health to lo­cal peo­ple in our com­mu­nity, it meant a lot to Su­san and Leah to present awards to other women whose work for their com­mu­nity is be­ing recog­nised.

“It em­pow­ers them and shows them that while they might strug­gle, they don’t have to feel like out­siders.”

PHOTO: BLAKE EZRA

Dame Es­ther Rantzen and Anne Web­ber ( sec­ond and third right) with award pre­sen­ters and lunch com­mit­tee lead­ers

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