Human dignity is like a golden thread running through Scripture

Nestling in the heart of the Kent countryside is a beautiful country house and over the years, our friends and visitors have taken advantage of its proximity. You approach through a wooded road and then suddenly, where the road bends round the corner, there it is! The house itself, set amid rolling grounds and stunning scenery. This is Chartwell, the beloved home of Winston Churchill.

Here the great man relaxed, painted and wrote copiously. There is one feature I love to point out every time I visit. In his study lined by bookcases there are small gaps between the books. If you look carefully, you notice the faces of little animals peeping out - soft toys he hid for his grandchildren to find.

This is a family home and here I can picture the great man, larger than life, the leader of a nation who inspired its inhabitants during its darkest hour. A man of duty, a servant of the nation, dedicated to standing firm. Here in the idyllic Kent countryside he could step away from the pressures of High Office and relax.

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of his funeral and, although this time the cranes did not dip in respect as the boat which had carried him to his final resting place passed, thousands still came out of offices to watch and veterans saluted.

Along with many others, I began again to ponder his incredible life. As a teenager, I studied his autobiographical account of his early years for English Literature exams, and learned of a young man who achieved an extraordinary amount over a lifetime.

Yet as I remembered his unwavering strength in the face of such evil during World War Two, I couldn't help but remember too the evil, terror and horror of the Holocaust. Last week Britain reflected on the horrendous evil of the death camps. Churchill, for all his faults, was resolute in condemning the evil and tragedy of how so many Jews were treated.

The news showed pictures of the memorial service, where survivors sat at the entrance to Auschwitz wearing their yellow scarves with the Star of David on them. Television programmes featured some of the survivors' stories. There was a man who could not talk of his experiences for 35 years and then realised that, for the sake of his grandchildren he must share them so that the world and a younger generation could learn from them. He held out his arm, the number was still clear to see; "from that moment I was just a number, not a person anymore" he said. Just imagine, your identity reduced to some digits, imprinted on your arm.

As I reflected, my mind wondered back to when as I teacher, I visited Israel and Yad Vashem, the memorial to the holocaust. Our coach driver, himself a survivor, could not bring himself to come in. The museum was simple, in many ways not as graphic as some pictures I had seen, yet extremely powerful with the eternal flame always burning. But most moving for me was the memorial recently completed in memory of the children who had perished in the camps. Candles reflected by mirrors marked each little life and a huge scroll bearing the name of each child was read out continuously, taking 48 hours to complete.

As we left, even the hardest of the young people I was with were crying. "Miss" they sobbed to me, "we must not let this happen again". The tragedy was as these young hearts made this resolute commitment, ethnic cleansing was taking place in the Balkans.

"Just a number". How contrary this is to the message of hope God brings us. The theme of human dignity is like a golden thread running through Scripture. We are made in God's image and as the psalmist says we are made "a little lower than God himself". How mind blowing that the great God of the universe knew us before we were formed in our mother's womb. All of us are precious individuals for whom Christ died.

Remembering our past should never be viewed as a waste of time, but we must do so to learn the lessons of the past. It is only through reflection that we can confidently move forward into the future. I am sure the children and grandchildren of those who suffered would echo the words "it must not happen again". Their words and memories must serve as a constant reminder that evil and tyranny must not be allowed to win the day. Each life from conception to its natural end is precious in God's eyes. I pray that we will always let this be our guide both in our nation and as individuals.

Nola Leach is the CEO of CARE.