Friday, 10 March 2017

Concern expressed about the plight of Polish people working in UK at Southport's Anglo Polish Annual Lunch

The plight of Polish people and other EU citizens living and working in the UK was raised by Andrew Otto, a respected local solicitor and the Vice Chair of the Southport and District Anglo Polish Society, in his speech proposing the toast to the guests at the society's annual Lunch .

Andrew was keen that the House of Lords should pass the amendment to safeguard the rights of folk already settled in the UK believing, as I do, that there is no risk that this will not be reciprocated.

My role was to respond to Andrew's toast which I was pleased to do. The UK owes a great debt to Polish people who came to our aid in WW2 some of whom settled here after the war. The story of how individual families were driven across Europe as first the Russians and then the Germans made them homeless in a dangerous war torn continent is one of the tragedies of the 20th century. The story is well known to the wartime generation and to those of us who grew up in the 50s and 60s and went to school with the sons and daughters of those immigrants. Today the story is being told afresh to a new generation. The revival of Terence Rattigan's  play Flight Path by Trevor Nunn in 2011 with Sheidan Smith and Sienna Miller in the lead roles is an important part of that re-telling.. Since then various versions of the play has been touring the provincial theatre's of Britain. Even closer to home our own Little Theatre in Southport is staging the play. (I learned from one of the guests that a similar role was played by Polish seamen.)

That generation of Polish who made the UK their home have made an enormous contribution to our society; economically, socially, culturally and every which way. As with so many immigrant group we are far better off because of their presence. Today a new generations of Polish men and women  have come to Britain and the Society has done a good deal to welcome and support them. As Andrew Otto pointed out there is a great deal of uncertainty about their future.

One little trivial fact I picked up -thanks to one of those irritating emails- was that exactly ninety years ago on the day of the dinner the Polish nation adopted a new National Anthem . I also had a crash course on Polish pronunciation from Society chair Richard Kowalski  all of which was a great help

Finally the new Manchester based NW Consul for the  Republic  of Poland Lesvek Rowicki spoke about the changing European landscape and how that would impact on his fellow country men and women who had settled here. .

After the dinner and the speeches were entertained by a group from Manchester singing Polish sea shanties  and a few English ones they had adapted.

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