A PLAQUE to commemorate a Cumbrian town’s commitment to helping a Basque refugee family will be unveiled this weekend by the family's last surviving member in a special ceremony.

In May 1937, the SS Habana arrived in Southampton carrying 4,000 Basque children fleeing from the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. They were eventually temporarily homed with families throughout the country.

The driving force behind the rescue of the children was Wilfrid Roberts, MP for North Cumberland, son of Charles Roberts and Lady Cecilia (Howard) Roberts.

Before being adopted into care, the children were dispersed to various reception centres across the UK.

One of these was the former Brampton Workhouse which was renovated by local volunteers under the guidance of Lady Cecilia Roberts. The Brampton home initially cared for 100 children.

Among the children were three siblings from the Cid-Santibañez family of Bilbao - Edurne aged 11, Luis aged 9 and Carmen aged 7 - who arrived in Brampton in April 1938.

Subsequently, the two eldest children, Edurne and Luis, were found homes in Glasgow whilst Carmen was fostered by the Alford family in Carlisle who were given financial support for her care by their son Norman Alford, a well-known local political activist and artist.

The family were eventually re-united with their parents Francisco and Frutosa and all of them remained in the UK.

The last surviving member of the family is Carmen, now aged 94.

On Saturday, June 17 Carmen (now Eckersley) will unveil a commemorative plaque on behalf of the Basque Children of ‘37 Association as a token of thanks to the people of Brampton and surrounding district.

As Carmen has limited mobility the ceremony will take place in The Howard Arms Hotel in Brampton. The plaque will be fixed in its final location on the site of the home in the following weeks.

The proceedings begin at 10.30am with an introduction to the story of the Basque children in Brampton by Dr Rob David, former President of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society.

Also in attendance will be members of the Roberts family of Boothby who led the Brampton response Professor Peter Anderson, a trustee of the Basque Children’s Association ’37 UK, as well as members of Edurne, Luis and Carmen's families.

The event coincides with the start of Refugee Week UK June, 19-25.