True Sunderland heroines to be honoured this week

Ida and Louise Cook, whose heroism is to be honoured.
Ida and Louise Cook, whose heroism is to be honoured.
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Tributes have poured in for two Sunderland sisters - just days before the city pays tribute to them in style.

Ida and Louise Cook saved dozens of Jews from Nazi persecution. To honour them, a Blue Plaque will be unveiled at 10.30am on Friday on the entrance gate wall to Croft Avenue which was their childhood home.

Ida Cook and sister Louise.

Ida Cook and sister Louise.

The Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Alan Emerson will host the event which co-incides with international Holocaust Memorial Day.

He said: “Ida and Louise willingly faced terrible danger and possible execution if they were caught, in order to save the lives of those facing terrible persecution from one of the most evil regimes in world history.”

Ida used money made from writing love stories for Mills and Boon in the 1930s to help smuggle scores of people out of Germany.

Mills & Boon, Executive Publisher Lisa Milton, said: “We are hugely proud to publish Ida Cook. Writing as Mary Burchell for Mills & Boon she brought her warm, romantic storytelling to countless readers over the years.

Many of these survivors who are still living, are now surrounded by their children and grand-children and for them life has gone on. This would have not been so had it not been for the bravery of the Cook sisters, and I am pleased to be invited to honour them on behalf of all those they saved

Tony Wortman

“But undoubtedly the greatest story of all was that of the extraordinary rescues of dozens of Jews from the Nazis, that she and Louise pursued relentlessly, risking their own lives to save others. It is an honour to have published their own remarkable, brave and deeply moving story. It is testament to them both that Safe Passage is still in print today almost 70 years later.”

Chairman of the Newcastle Reform Synagogue, Tony Wortman who lives in Fulwell said: “Ida and Louise Cook saved many Jews who may have settled in this country. In many cases they married and had children, who then married and had children of their own.

“Many of these survivors who are still living, are now surrounded by their children and grand-children and for them life has gone on. This would have not been so had it not been for the bravery of the Cook sisters, and I am pleased to be invited to honour them on behalf of all those they saved.”

Following the unveiling of the Blue Plaque, local historian Stuart Miller is giving a free talk at the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens at 1.30pm about the lives of the Cook sisters.

Contact (0191) 5612323 for details or visit http://www.seeitdoitsunderland.co.uk/sunderland-museum-winter-gardens.

A small touring exhibition Rescues of the Holocaust is also on view at the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens in Burdon Road until January 28, which includes the story of the sisters.