Mrs Ella Latchman: Mother of T.O.M.

Let's find out in her own words how our Life Patron, Ella Latchman, became involved with Youth Aliyah Child Rescue.

Ella Latchman at microphone

How, when and why did you first get involved with Youth Aliyah Child Rescue?

It was 1971 after my treasured father z’’l had passed away. After caring for my cherished mother z’’l and then my father (supported by my husband) which was to me a labour of love, I longed to work for a charity. A close friend of mine, Zina Newton-Grun met with Eva Sharpe who was a colleague of Lady Edith Wolfson, the Chairman of the Aid Society of Youth Aliyah. They met at the Green Park Hotel, Bournemouth where Eva explained that they were keen to find ‘new blood’ to join the ageing committee. Zina and I both decided to join and the rest is history.

What made the Aid Society so successful?

The success of the Aid Society began with Lady Wolfson and her colleagues. Their function consisted of one Annual Luncheon, with a celebrity speaker for 250 to 300 ladies at the Dorchester. They also held an antique auction with many valuable items collected by certain members of the committee: Mrs Hahn-Warburg being the main one. Together with the brochure at the luncheon they did very well financially. When I became Chairman it was decided to change the Annual Luncheon for an evening function at the Savoy or Dorchester to include men. Gradually we spread our wings to hold more than one function a year, a smaller one for ladies at St John’s Wood Synagogue (also with a celebrity speaker) and fashion shows. In addition we held weekly bridge parties organised by our card chairman, Sally Segar. At the same time His Grace the Duke of Devonshire accepted my invitation to become our Patron. He came every year to our Annual Dinner and was very pro Israel.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your involvement?

I could not have coped without the help of my husband Emanuel z’’l and son David. Emanuel was the ‘back room’ boy, doing the accounts, brochures and anything else that needed to be done. He was very modest not wanting any kudos. In those days it was all done from home.

What advice would you give to the younger generation?

I would like to give one very important piece of advice. If you are dedicated you must develop a ‘thick skin’, the path is not always ‘smooth running’. Many obstacles were put in my way but thankfully I rose above them in the knowledge that I was working for the children and not allowing any thoughts of ‘giving up’ along the way.

What is your most fulfilling experience with the charity?

When my husband, schoolboy David and myself visited the Youth Aliyah Village of T.O.M. for the first time we were saddened to see it had only the barest essentials. It was a very hot day and I asked the Director David Elbaum ‘Where is the swimming pool?’ The reply ‘a swimming pool is a luxury, there are many things we need before that.’ I turned to him and promised him that the Aid Society will help to acquire what is necessary with the help of Hashem and generous donors. I would like to mention just a few main donors who helped us on the way to keep our promise:

My Brother Maurice and Sister in Law, Vivienne Wohl
Bertie and his wife, Doris Black
Sally Segar
Our President, Mrs Bessie Kornberg

I am delighted that when I became Chairman, we on the Aid Society pulled together to make T.O.M. the beautiful village it is today.

I would add that latterly arriving at the village for a dedication of two dormitory blocks donated by the Maurice Wohl Charity Foundation, it was my reward to see the young boys of yesteryear now returning to the village with their little ones. They are now able to support themselves thanks to the education and training they have received from T.O.M. One came up to me and introduced his wife and told her that he remembered me when he first came to the village and that they referred to me as ‘Mother of T.O.M.’

Mrs Ella Latchman is pictured speaking at the first function of the Aid Society’s 40th anniversary year.

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