Wellingborough Polish school pupils honour dead with graveyard clear-up for All Hallows' Day

A Wellingborough mum has organised a county-wide graveyard tidy up with her family, friends and students.

Friday, 1st November 2019, 6:00 am
Students place Polish flags on the graves

Joanna Niewiem, who teaches at the Wellingborough Polish Saturday School, has brought the Polish tradition of sprucing up loved ones' graves on All Hallows's Day - also

known as All Saints' Day - which is celebrated on November 1.

The 40-year-old mum of two said: "It is traditional to visit the graves of family on November 1. We don't have our family here so we sent to see other Polish graves.

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Cleaning the graves

"I started visiting the graveyard in Wellingborough five years ago with my daughter Nadia and my son Wiktor. We looked at the graves and saw that

there were many Polish names. Any graves with Polish names that didn't look tidy we put flowers on and lit a candle. We also found the grave of a Polish airman.

"Three years ago we lit ten candles, last year we used 40 candles and this year we will light over 100."

Joanna volunteers on Saturday mornings at a school, attended by more than 340 students, where she teaches Year 7 pupils of Polish heritage, Polish language, history, geography and

Clearing the graves

culture.

She joined with Piotr Slonina from Northampton to organise the Polish community to come together to visit graves in towns across the county.

The Wellingborough Polish Saturday School, currently based at Huxlow Academy Irthlingborough, includes 303 Squadron in their name to honour the Polish pilots who fought in the Battle

of Britain.

Joanna Niewiem

"My students were allowed to come along to clean the graves with Polish names in Irthlingborough. We looked for any graves covered in dirt and washed them. Any names we couldn't

read we washed them down - if they were English names or Polish. We have respect for the English graves. We found many names that had been changed to English but said they were

born in Poland.

"We found graves of Polish soldiers from the war with Russia. That's amazing for me and my students. I can say something in the classroom to them but when they see history in front of

Tidy up

them it means something much more.

"It's very important for me to do something for my culture and it's very important to remember the people who died. We are here because of what the Polish people did in the war."

Joanna's group have tidied graves in Wellingborough, Northampton, Rushden, Irthlingborough, Kettering, Corby and Daventry.

The have invited the community to visit the graves on Friday November, 1 and Saturday, November 2 to light candles. For more information click here .

She added: "Because we don't have family graves we have taken care of Polish families' graves. We will visit them and say some words and light a candle."