MORE than 500 people gathered to hear the harrowing stories of Holocaust survivors at the Lighthouse in Poole yesterday.

The memorial day has been observed on January 27 – the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp – every year since it started in 2001 and commemorates not only the Holocaust but other genocides around the world.

The theme at the event on Sunday was Journeys and speakers asked the audience to consider the journeys made by those who suffered in the Holocaust.

At the well-attended event was Mayor of Bournemouth Cllr Rod Cooper, MP Tobias Ellwood and ex- footballer Graeme Souness, plus many Holocaust survivors and their families.

Organiser Lynda Ford-Horne, of the Bournemouth and Poole Holocaust Memorial Day Committee, said it was important to hold events like this so people can come along and connect with members of the community.

She added: “I am glad so many people came along and there are so many great speakers.

“On Holocaust day 2014 we are encouraging people around the UK to come together to remember those murdered during the Holocaust, under Nazi persecution and the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.”

As an act of commemoration, seven different community groups in the area each lit a memorial candle.

The candles represented the Jews who perished in the Holocaust and those who have died in other atrocities around the world.

The Wessex Chorus sang to the audience and pupils from Forest Forge Youth Theatre performed a specially commissioned play by Bafta winning writer John Foster.

Former Saints boss Graeme Souness said: “I joined the committee at their Holocaust Memorial Day to help remember the horrors of the past and think about how we can show respect for others in our community.”