Wellingborough Polish school students honour dead with graveyard tidy

The clear-up was organised by members of the Polish community

Monday, 1st November 2021, 12:14 pm
Updated Monday, 1st November 2021, 12:17 pm

Pupils of a Wellingborough school have honoured the dead with their annual graveyard tidy up to mark All Hallows's Day - also known as All Saints' Day - celebrated on November 1.

Joanna Niewiem, who teaches at the Wellingborough Polish Saturday School, has brought the Polish tradition of sprucing up loved ones' graves to her adopted town.

The 42-year-old Wellingborough mum-of-two organised the tidy up with her family, friends and students, concentrating on graves with traditionally Polish names.

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Polishing the graves

As well as tidying the graves, cleaning the headstones and placing flowers, each grave has been decorated with a Polish flag and candles.

She said: "Over 50 students, together with their teachers, found, cleaned and decorated the graves of Poles - there are over 200 of them many neglected and forgotten.

"Fortunately, each year, thanks to our campaign, they look better and better.

"This year, three classes joined the campaign. Many students have only heard of this tradition. Their peers in Poland visit the graves of family members on November 1 but they are far away, and the Poles who died here are not visited by anyone, so this action is very much needed.

Joanna (on right) with the candles

"Thanks to the sponsors - the Maxim store and private donors - we managed to get candles so that every Polish grave was lit, and the Year 1 students made decorations in national colours themselves. We are proud of ourselves, we received a lot of praise and kind words from the residents visiting the cemetery."

All Saints' Day (Uroczystość Wszystkich Świętych) is an annual national holiday in Poland to celebrate the saints on November 1. It is also known as the Day of the Dead, as many people remember dead family and friends on this day.

Joanna started visiting the graveyard in Wellingborough five years ago with her daughter Nadia and son Wiktor and saw that there were many Polish names. Five years ago they lit ten candles. This year they lit over 200.

She added: "It was not an easy job. We don't have family graves here so have taken care of Polish families' graves."

Children from the Wellingborough Polish School brush the graves
Placing candles on the graves
Cleaning the graves
Homemade flags in Polish colours of red and white were made by students