Leeds celebrates first Polish Heritage Day

ENGAGING: Jurek Lesiak of Alwoodley serves Polish food to Maja Jaroszynski, seven, of Beeston.
ENGAGING: Jurek Lesiak of Alwoodley serves Polish food to Maja Jaroszynski, seven, of Beeston.
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A celebration of music, cuisine and culture was held in Leeds this weekend as part of nationwide events to mark the first Polish Heritage Day.

Championed by the Polish Embassy, the day was designed to bring the country’s citizens closer to their neighbours here in the city and across the UK.

The focal point of celebrations in Leeds was the Polish Catholic Centre in Chapel Allerton, which last year hosted a public meeting in the wake of a suspected race hate crime.

Since then the centre has built links with other local organisations, hosted workshops run by hate crime support workers and encouraged its members to play a more active role in city life – something the Embassy has been keen to see.

And it was in this spirit that the centre threw open its doors on Saturday to welcome visitors of all ages in to enjoy food, music, dancing and more.

Anna Lysakowska, who helped organise the event, said: “It was absolutely amazing. We had such a massive turnout – hundreds of people.

“We didn’t expect that so many people from so many different communities would come along. Everybody was enjoying themselves and mixing together. People were dancing and listening to the music.”

She said organisers were thrilled with the support shown for the event, particularly by West Yorkshire Police.

“For my community it is extremely important that we come together and create something like this,” she said. “It’s a really positive lesson for us.

“We’re going to host the event again next year. All the communities have their own celebration days and we realised on Saturday that people do want to know us, to have fun with us and to engage with us.”

Gavin Opperman of CYBG

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