New heritage group aims to record the contribution of Poles to Norfolk

Adrian O'Dell is forming The Norfolk Polish Heritage Group. Picture: Ian Burt

Adrian O'Dell is forming The Norfolk Polish Heritage Group. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A new group aims to explore and record the stories of how Poles have contributed to life in Norfolk since the Second World War, and earlier.

Stefan Zolkowski, 1940

Stefan Zolkowski, 1940 - Credit: Archant

The Norfolk Polish Heritage Group is working with the Norfolk Record Office to research and gather oral histories or memorabilia that will help to create an archive of Polish influence in the county.

One of the group's members, Adrian O'dell, said: 'Most of the Poles who came during the war or just after the war are now on their last legs, if there are many left. That generation has almost gone, so I think it is up to the subsequent generations to keep the Polish flame alive.'

Mr O'dell's father, Stefan Zolkowski-O'dell, came to the UK following the German invasion of Poland in 1939, joined the RAF, and later became a successful businessmen in the county.

As well as creating an archive, the group hopes to hold regular meetings, exhibitions and gatherings, and wants to establish Polish conversation classes aimed at English speakers trying to learn Polish, or Poles who would like to improve their English skills.

Stefan Zolkowski-O'dell at 93rd Bomb Group Museum, August 1999

Stefan Zolkowski-O'dell at 93rd Bomb Group Museum, August 1999 - Credit: Archant

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Mr O'dell said the idea of starting the group came before last month's referendum vote to leave the EU, and was not connected to Brexit.

He said: 'The initial idea was to tap into the people who came just after the war, or during the war, but we want to make it broad.'

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He hoped that more recent arrivals from Poland, who have settled or planned to settle here, would contribute.

The Norfolk Polish Heritage Group would like to hear from anyone living in Norfolk and Norwich who has family connections with Poland or an affinity with the country.

Contact Adrian O'dell on or 01362 637033 for further details.

What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to EDP Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email giving your full name, address and contact details.

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