Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassador Blog

10 Years of AmCon and the Ambassador Programme

On Thursday 6th July, Ambassadors from all over the UK gathered in London for our annual Ambassador Conference (‘AmCon’). Always a highlight of the HET calendar, it is a chance for Ambassadors to catch up, share ideas, and hear from some fantastic guest speakers, and of course the incredible Holocaust survivors.

This year’s conference was a special moment for the Ambassador programme, marking the 10-year anniversary since the first ever AmCon was held in 2013. On 8th July 2013 the Ambassador conference was launched in London. Roughly 500 ambassadors gathered to hear, as we did in 2023, from a range of excellent speakers, increasing and developing their understanding of the Holocaust and antisemitism. During these 10 years, hundreds more young people have attended the conference, and gone on to share what they learned with their wider communities. Hundreds of events have been organised over the years and these have ranged from survivor talks, guest speaker events, and Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration events in schools and on their university campuses.

The first interaction with the Ambassador programme comes after the completion of the Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz (LFA) Project, where thousands of young people from all over the United Kingdom take part in a four-stage project. This includes a seminar where they have the opportunity to hear from one of HET’s survivors, followed by a one-day visit to Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Upon their return, ambassadors are then tasked with organising a project through which they can show what they have learned.

The LFA had a huge impact on so many of its participants, many dozens of whom have gone on to become Regional Ambassadors, representing regions across the UK. Here are accounts from three of them, including Jack Nicholls, Meg Davis, and Emily Farley.

Jack Nicholls

I attended the Lessons from Auschwitz Project in early 2014 and became a Regional Ambassador two years later. Since then, the Ambassador community has grown in many ways. My own journey in the community is probably very similar to those of many of you. In the years following the LFA I would attend various events with the Holocaust Educational Trust including study visits to Israel and Budapest.

In 2015, I attended my first AmCon. It was already a big event, as large as AmCon is today. One of my most vivid memories of the conference was seeing about a dozen people wearing white HET shirts. I was very curious about them, and why they had these matching tops. This was the first time I had seen Regional Ambassadors. They walked around in twos or threes, often chatting to newcomers and HET staff. That year I had travelled up alone and did not know anyone else at the conference. I therefore shyly stuck to myself, attending my registered talks and the main lectures before going home.

My memories of that first AmCon are very different to all the others, simply because I did not know anybody. In subsequent years, especially after I had become an RA, HET events such as AmCon felt more communal. Every time I have attended a HET event, I have sensed this feeling of community. I have tried to emulate this through some of my work with the Trust, including this newsletter.

Fast forward to 2023, and I am now an RA alum. With every year that passes, the age gap between me and the ambassador community increases. However, this does not mean too much, as the work of HET allows people of a variety of ages to connect over the same interests. It is also exciting to see young people engage with HET as passionately as we did when I first attended events. The future of the ambassador community is bright, and I look forward to next year’s AmCon!

Meg Davis

My A-level history teacher approached me and said he had an opportunity that he thought I would be interested in - the LFA. I participated in the programme and wrote about my experiences for my next steps.

Covid-19 hit but I managed to go to the Imperial War Museum in 2021, which inspired me to get back in touch with the Holocaust Educational Trust. Ever since then, I have been fortunate to attend several events and workshops organised by the Trust. These have included survivor coffee mornings, a trip to the House of Commons, and Ambassador study visits (ASVs) to Budapest and Yad Vashem.

As an ambassador I’ve done a lot of public speaking and have spoken to over 1,000 people. I am currently working on a project for a portable art gallery in which we are showcasing survivor art. I am also in contact with my local British Army regiment and hopefully things will be presented soon.

I became an RA for the West Midlands this year and working with HET has made me realise that this is what I wanted to do at university. I have applied for an MA in Holocaust Studies for the 2023-24 year, and hopefully I am accepted. The course of my entire career has been shaped by a single connection, my journey as an ambassador, and it has made me realise my strengths and has fuelled my passions!

Emily Farley

My journey with the Holocaust Educational Trust started where everyone’s journey starts, completing the Lessons from Auschwitz Project. I visited Auschwitz in March 2019, and as with most ambassadors, my experiences pushed me to become more active with the trust. My first events as an ambassador included AmConAtHome which really broadened my understanding of where knowledge of the Holocaust was applicable and truly made me understand that the more you learn about the Holocaust, the less you understand.

I originally applied to become a regional ambassador that year but was unsuccessful but reapplied the year after and was accepted. My role as a regional ambassador has been possibly the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Attending Yom HaShoah events, the House of Commons and hosting 700 people for a TEDx Talk given by Ivan Shaw are just some of the highlights. As predictable as it seems, the people I have met and the community that has grown is the most incredible thing about the role of regional ambassador. I am also fortunate enough to have been selected to attend the study visit to Yad Vashem in August this year, an opportunity I am particularly looking forward to. I am sure it will grow my understanding of the Holocaust even further and build even closer relationships with other ambassadors.

These are just a couple of experiences from our many members of the incredible Ambassador community. Each experience is unique but is tied together by a commitment to ensuring that the memory of the Holocaust, and the testimonies of our survivors, are shared with as many people as possible. Events such as AmCon enable us to support each other to achieve this. As we mark 10 years, we are so thankful to be part of this community that never fails to inspire us to ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten.

By Jack Thurlow, Meg Davis and Emily Farley, with a contribution from Jack Nicholls