On Saturday 23rd January 2016 an interesting integrational event took place on the Hitchin Road in Luton hosted by the Luton Irish Forum (LIF).
The Polish British Integration Centre (PBIC) with the newly formed Polonia community group held what is hoped to be an annual cultural event aimed at bringing the many diverse communities in Luton together.
Guests and dignitaries were piped into the event by special guest musicians ‘Luton Irish Forum Emerald Pipe Band’.
Chair of the LIF Tom Scanlon opened the event reminding everyone of the importance of working together to build stronger communities. Esteemed speakers included Kevin Hopkins and Polish Embassy representative, Vice – Consul Magdalena Miluska who expressed her gratitude to local officials for supporting this type of initiative and also spoke about the ‘Give your child their own native language programme’.
The Vice – Consul underlined how precious bilingualism is.
The event saw over 500 in attendance with live music from Rock musician Marcin Ciesiun, up and coming singer songwriter Kasia Wardman and established Polish artist Katy Carr.
There were also many activities for the children including a Tia Chi demonstration with swords, performances from traditional Irish dancers The Finbarr Conway Academy and the children’s group Promethidion.
An emotional live interview took place with Marianna Bukowski, ‘Portrait of a soldier’ and survivor of the Warsaw Uprising and a talk and exhibition from Peter Sikora on the heroics of the Polish squadrons during the Battle of Britain – WW2.
There were many other stalls and activities supported by the many volunteers and staff of both Polonia and the PBIC.
Sebastian Dolinski head of the Polish community group Polonia and event organiser said “This was a very successful event. I am glad that so many people from different backgrounds had a chance to see the Polish community as being well organised, having fun and celebrating their culture, history, language, food and sport activities.
“This event has proved that the Polish community is a very important and integral part of Luton culture.”
Mags Brady Centre Manager of the PBIC said “I am proud that the community pulled together to share in what was a fantastic integrational day.
“Both ourselves and Polonia would like to thank our hosts the Luton Irish Forum, all the sponsors, staff, volunteers and especially members of the public who took time out to support this community initiative. I hope we can repeat it next year.”
Noelette Hanley Chief Officer of Luton Irish Forum said “Luton is a vibrant multicultural town that has welcomed generations of communities including the Irish who are one of the longest established. It was inspirational to see how one of the more recently established communities has integrated whilst preserving the richness of their culture and heritage.
“The Polish community are an example to us all.”