York-Liège friendships remembered, 100 years on
Updated 3:59pm Thursday 12th June 2014 in News
DESCENDANTS of York chocolate factory workers are to meet relatives of the refugees they befriended, as part of the First World War centenary commemorations.
Members of the Loix family, whose forefathers fled Liège, Belgium, in 1914, will meet members of the Rutterford family, whose relatives worked at Rowntree's.
The meeting will form part of the Mayor of Liège's events, marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war.
Scores of Belgians fled to York in 1914 and were welcomed by employees at the Rowntree's factory in Haxby Road.
Staff set up a donation fund and a council to distribute resources and found accommodation for the refugees.
Alex Hutchinson, Nestlé heritage assistant, said: "Although the Rowntree family members were pacifists, and opposed to war, they were keen to help as many victims of the hostilities as possible.
"Those refugees who were able to work were given employment in the chocolate factory, but most had to be supported by donations from Rowntree’s workers.
"Employees at the factory formed a council to manage and distribute resources until the end of hostilities. Factory workers cleared cottages in New Earswick, and space in the factory grounds for living accommodation."
Miss Hutchinson said Nestlé's archives would be used to support the events in Liège, including an exhibition on the outbreak of hostilities in the town and the refugees who fled to York.
She is also appealing for anyone in York who has any photographs or memorabilia relating to the Belgian refugees to come forward, to help with the commemorations.
Anyone who is able to help is asked to phone Nestlé's consumer services department on 00800 6378 5385 or 0800 00 00 30, or to write to Nestlé UK Ltd, Haxby Road, York, YO91 1XY, or to tweet @nestleUK or to visit www.nestle.co.uk/getintouch/contactus
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