KEIGHLEY Soroptimists have learned about the history of the Polish community across the Bradford district.

Jan Nicryperiwicz spoke to the group, describing the harrowing circumstances in which some Poles had settled in the area.

Reasons for leaving their homeland included political tensions, persecution, and the onslaught of war and the terror of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

Mr Nicryperiwicz said that as far back as 1831, Poles had begun settling mainly in Manchester and Liverpool.

But after the First World War there was a considerable movement to Scotland – and Scottish soldiers were welcomed by the King of Poland to join its ranks!

Following the horrors of the Second World War, many Polish immigrants – some of whom had been prisoners of war – arrived in this country and chose to settle in places including Bradford and Keighley.

There were also military personnel who had served here during the war, and decided when hostilities ended to make the UK their home.

“They integrated into the community,” said Mr Nicryperiwicz.

“An ex-servicemen’s club was set-up, which still exists.

“And a Polish school was established. Students were were very successful in exams at O and A level, which opened-up opportunities for their careers to flourish.”

Members heard that there are now around 5,000 Poles living in Bradford.

“More recently – through European freedom of movement agreements – there have been larger numbers of Polish families integrating into the community in and around Bradford,” said a Soroptimists spokesman.