On the 12th and 13th November we celebrated the 60th anniversary of Dom Polski in Bedford. The Diamond jubilee was spread over 2 days.
Saturday 12th of November was dedicated to post – war Polish generation who collaborated in forming Dom Polski. Invited guests included children whose parents 60 years ago opened Dom Polski and remembered 1962 very well when general Wladyslaw Andres officially opened the venue, where despite many ups and downs managed to continue to trade for many years serving the Polish Community and welcoming under its roof the 4th generation of post-war Poles. On this day the Polish Flag fluttered not just on the Dom Polski but also at Bedford Town Hall.
We were honoured to welcome the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Italy – Mrs Anna Maria Anders. Due to the fact that Mrs Anders Father officially opened Dom Polski 60 years ago, this beautiful history has a perfect symmetry. Congratulations to Bedford and Dom Polski flowed from the stage and made us all feel very emotional. It was a very important day to us all. Another beautiful and emotional speech was held by Consul Anna Tarnowska- Waszak representing the Embassy of Poland in London.
For this occasion representatives of the local government were also invited. We were honoured that The High Sheriff of Bedfordshire – Lady Jane Clifford along with her husband Sir Timothy Clifford came to Dom Polski and made a beautiful speech referring to contributions that Poles have made in the history of England.
We were also privileged to welcome : Richard Fuller – Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire, Yasin Mohammad – Labour MP for Bedford, Lucy Bywater – Councillor for Castle Ward (Green Party), Peter J. Davies – The Royal British Legion, Lydia Saul – The Higgins Museum , Festus Akinbusoye – Police and Crime Commissioner
as well as local Polish organizations such as PLCA (The Polish Language and Culture Association), PBIC (Polish British Integration Centre), Polish Club, Sacred Heart Of Jesus & St Cuthbert Polish Church, Polish School named after Pope John Paul II as well as representative of polish businesses in Bedford – Pioneer LED and Twój Styl Izabela Bella fashion boutique.
A letter sent by the Prime Minister office signed by the minister in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister responsible for the Polish diaspora – Jan Dziedziczak was also read from the stage.
Mrs Joanna Mechelewska, representative from The Polish Educational Society read on behalf of the director of the organisation – Mrs Elżbieta Barrass a beautiful and emotional letter. Mrs Mechelewska along with Mrs Maria Mechelewska for many years have been running the Polish School whose founder was Mrs Maria Mechelewska. It was the very first Polish School in Bedford based in Dom Polski which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.
We had outstanding speeches read in both languages from people involved with Dom Polski throughout the years.
Mr Tony Wereszczynski , the son of one of the founders of Dom Polski ,who at the age of 30 became the youngest Managing Director of the Polish community centre in the UK. He operated this place for approximately 20 years. Many beautiful, emotional and wise words were said from the stage during his speech.
Another important guest speaker involved with Dom Polski including redecorating the place was Mr Jerzy Staszak. We heard that Mr Staszak met his wife here in Dom Polski at harvest festival and who is happily married to this date. In the 70’s he was a director of the Polish School until Polish language and culture at Polish Educational Society offered him to become a trustee who he continued for the next 30 years. In those days he visited many schools in the UK as well as in Australia
It’s been 60 years- sometimes the sun was shining and sometimes there was a heavy rain but we are extremely proud that Dom Polski it’s not just a building, it’s also a heart and a soul of the community and its walls still sing the beautiful history of Polish emigrants. All of this would not take place without the involvement of people with enormous hearts , who are selfless, without expectations for any gratitude are always here ready to help. Their work starts when headlights are switched off, therefore during this event in a special way we wanted to highlight their involvement in Dom Polski. Thanks to those People, Dom Polski since 2018 blossomed, continuing to develop in an artistic way ,upholding Polish tradition, culture and language .
Aneta Kojadyńska – Managing Director was very emotional in her speech. She said ” Thank you for the generosity of your heart, invaluable support, time and engagement thanks to which another milestone has been reached in Dom Polski development and keeps history alive”.
Friends of Dom Polski who have received a hand shake from Mrs Anders, joint photo and a thank you certificate were: Mateusz Nawiesniak, Piotr Parandowski, Marek Jamroz, Artur Smola, Magdalena Goluch, Izabela and Grzegorz Wrobel, Katarzyna and Szymon Piechowiak, Wioletta Miadowicz, Damian Panka, Ela Walenda-Koziminska, Roland Jabłonski, Monika Witkowska, Zbigniew Wereszczynski. Thanks were also given to: Grzegorz Kowalewski, Justyna Urbaniak, Piotr Honisz, Iwo Jakubowski, Katarzyna Boucenna, Robert Lalor, Magdalena Kowalska, Jerzy Staszak.
During the event we had an academy, a little bit of the history, memories and artistic performances of children from both Polish Schools in Bedford. Children Band Promethidion sang a beautiful song „Squadron 303” and children from PLCA referred to 11th of November which is the Polish Independence Day in Poland and to Remembrance Day in the UK.
Another performer on stage was a violin band Young Bows who hypnotized the audience with their performance. Those beautiful ladies from Bedford repertoire consisted of traditional Polish songs and national Polish dances in modern arrangements.Current lineup includes Mrs Edyta Sawa and her students : Amelia Kulik, Róża Pudlik, Simona Jelenska, Nicola Konopka.There was an unforgettable moment when Italian song Libiamo z La Traviata and Tarantella was played with the special dedication for Mrs Anna Maria Anders, who was not able to hide her emotions.
We have then invited the audience to listen to a very emotional song “Red Poppies” that highlights the courage and bravery of the Polish Soldier under general Wladyslaw Anders command in Monte Casino. At this point Mrs Anders indicated to stand up as a expression of respect while the song was played (English subtitles available).
Dom Polski has received an amazing gift which was a song specially written and performed which had its premiere on that day. Song refers to history but it also shares a wise message to modern times. Right from the stage in front of Mrs Anders and all of the audience Grzegorz Kowalewski (Bedford) and Marcin Ciesiun (Luton), incredibly talented people performed their song from the bottom of their hearts.
To finalise our event we sliced a beautiful celebration cake along with a Happy Birthday Song wishing Dom Polski to be fulfilled with love and happiness for the next 100 years. Event was run in both languages by Andrzej Gasienica in Polish and Magdalena Goluch in English. Thank you very much for a beautiful and professional hosting of the event .
Invaluable work was done by our professional photographer – Ela Walenda-Kozimińska , video operator – Marek Jamroz, Sound operator Damian Panka and Wioletta Miadowicz, Bar staff serving the best drink in whole world (as per Mrs Anders opinion) – Mateusz Nawieśniak, Security – Radosław Matławski, Tomasz Grzesiak, Ryszard Tarapacki. Dom Polski support – Magdalena Kowalska, Kasia Piechowiak, Iza Wróbel , buffet lunch and desserts Ewa and Monika from Magic Pot Restaurant. Thank you all marking the history with your attendance
During our 2 day celebration we had media presence of Polish Television TVP, representants of Radio Wnet and Cambridge 105 Radio – Polish Waves.