Polish service personnel links to Mid and East Antrim explored in shared history project

L-R: Katie Carr, musician; Vivienne Walsh, Mid & East Antrim Investment & Funding Delivery manager; Tomasz Tadla, Deputy Consul for the Republic of Poland (Belfast); Mairead Myles Davy, Area manager Housing Executive;  the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Beth Adger MBE;  Maciek Bator, 'For Your Freedom and Ours' Programme director and Stephen Gamble, Housing Executive.
L-R: Katie Carr, musician; Vivienne Walsh, Mid & East Antrim Investment & Funding Delivery manager; Tomasz Tadla, Deputy Consul for the Republic of Poland (Belfast); Mairead Myles Davy, Area manager Housing Executive; the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Beth Adger MBE; Maciek Bator, 'For Your Freedom and Ours' Programme director and Stephen Gamble, Housing Executive.

A celebration event has been held to mark the completion of a shared history project in Mid and East Antrim.

Organised by the Housing Executive and funded via the PEACE IV Local Area Networks programme, ‘For Your Freedom and Ours’ was delivered to 60 participants from the Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne Local Area Networks.

Over a period of six weeks they focused on the shared history of Polish service personnel, particularly the airmen, who were stationed here during the Second World War.

Stephen Gamble, the Housing Executive’s Good Relations officer for Mid & East Antrim, opened the event at the Tullyglass Hotel, Ballymena and introduced Tomasz Tadla, the Deputy Consul for the Republic of Poland (in Belfast).

The audience also heard musician Katie Carr perform traditional Polish songs to the group before the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Beth Adger MBE, assisted by Tomasz Tadla, presented everyone with their certificates.

Maciek Bator, ‘For Your Freedom and Ours’ programme director, was also there to congratulate everyone on the completion of his course.

He said: “I developed this project as part of a series of shared history educational programme lectures, workshops and tours, to highlight the shared history between Northern Ireland and Poland.

“This project has been specifically tailored to raise cultural awareness, competence, inclusion, diversity and the positive impact of the Polish community and other BME (black and minority ethnic groups) on the social and economic situation in Northern Ireland.

“Thanks to the Housing Executive and Peace IV for giving me the opportunity to deliver this.”

The Deputy Mayor said she was happy to be a part of the Local Area Network celebrations.

“It was a pleasure to present certificates to the For Your Freedom and Ours participants, and an honour to meet the Deputy Consul for the Republic of Poland.

“This project has really got people in the borough talking about history, and raised cultural awareness.”

Cllr Adger added the initiative has been so successful that Larne High School plans to incorporate the learning as part of its History GCSE curriculum later this year.