YOUNG and old gathered to commemorate victims of genocide around the world, for Holocaust Memorial Day.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Bolton, members of faith groups, Bolton Council and pupils from schools across the town, attended a special ceremony in Freedom hall at the town hall, to pay tribute to the millions who died under the tyranny of the Nazi regime, as well as in acts of persecution that have and continue to take place around the globe.

The event was also attended by two special guests from the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance from Australia.

Chan Parmar, strategic officer at Bolton Interfaith Council, said: “The event is about remembering the Holocaust and subsequent genocides as it is important to remember the pain that people suffered.

“It is also important to learn lessons from this, that we should come together and talk for peace, harmony and mutual respect, because the suffering of innocents in today’s world is not acceptable.”

During the event those gathered lit 24 Candles of Hope after which Dave Bagley, from Urban Outreach, said: “In lighting a candle we put a little bit of light back in to some dark places.”

Speeches were delivered by the Mayor, Cllr Roger Hayes, acting leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Linda Thomas, and an emotional prayer was recited in both English and Hebrew by Rabbi Lever from Faith Network 4 Manchester.

Rabbi Lever said he was “privileged” to attend the event, adding: “I want to thank everyone who came today and supports the Jewish community, we are very grateful.

“We want to particularly thank the schoolchildren who attended and are an inspiration to us. We pray to almighty God for a better world.”

Some 120 pupils and 30 staff from 16 schools across the town participated in the event, with poem readings and musical performances.

A number of artworks and projects, made by the pupils were placed around the hall, centred on the theme of this year's ceremony, The Power of Words.

Closing the ceremony Mr Bagley encouraged people “never to forget the Holocaust or actions of genocide”, inviting people”to build a future where every single human is entitled and able to experience freedom, and freedom of opportunity, and freedom from slavery.

He added: “In our town we are celebrating our diversity.

"We are a town who can accept people.

"Let us build from this a better world, a better community, a better school and a better life for each of us.”

Schools involved included: The Olive Tree School, Pikes Lane, Brandwood, St Pauls, Ladywood, Gilnow, St Michael, Eden Boys, Bolton School – Girls’, Bolton Music Service, Horwich Parish, and Ladybridge High School.