The first Polish Heritage Day in Worcester commemorated the sacrifices made by Polish people during the Second World War and celebrated their ongoing contribution to British life.
The family day at Cathedral Plaza in Worcester, organised by the Worcestershire Polish Association, drew in large crowds as they enjoyed music, street food and dancing.
Visitors also admired a Spitfire on display, peeking inside the cockpit.
However, there was a more serious side to the event which included marking the courage of Polish aircrews and other Polish nationals who served in the Second World War. The British and Polish national anthems were played one after the other while a trumpeter played the Hejnal, a short five note anthem.
Among those to attend the event was Second World War veteran Edward Szymczak, a 96-year-old Polish lieutenant who served with II Corps and is a personal friend of the organiser, Tomasz Wisniewski, founder and sitting president of the Worcestershire Polish Association.
The day was also a way to mark this year’s 250th anniversary of the formal establishment of Polish–British diplomatic relations and the centenary of the renewal of Polish–British bilateral relations.
The Mayor of Worcester, Cllr Jabba Riaz, spoke of the bravery of Polish fighter pilots which he said was ‘legacy for all Poles to be proud of’ and repeated his ‘love not hate’ message.
Roger Brunt, Worcestershire County President of the Royal British Legion, said: “The Polish Heritage Day recalls and highlights the courageous and vital contribution of the Polish Armed Forces during the Second World War at the Battle of Britain, the capture of Monte Cassino in 1944 and the closure of the Falaise Gap during the breakout from Normandy in 1944.
“We remember all those who have lost their lives on active service in all conflicts, from the beginning of the First World War right up to the present day. We also remember all those who have served and their families.
“In these endeavours, the contributions of the Polish Armed Forces in the cause of the Western Allies rank with those of the very best and deserve our warmest appreciation.”
Speakers included Peter Sikora, a Polish Air Force historian, author and writer and Dilip Sarkar, an author and expert on the Battle of Britain, who was made an honourary Pole.
By James Connell/WorcesterNews/AW