TRIBUTE has been paid following the death of a stalwart of Keighley’s Ukrainian community.

Peter (Petro) Szczur was a founder member of Keighley Ukrainian Association and had been its chairman for over 30 years.

He died – aged 94 – at Laurel Mount Nursing Home in the town, with son Stephen at his side.

Mr Szczur was born in Western Ukraine but left the family home during the German occupation, heading to the UK – via Rimini in Italy – at the end of the Second World War, with fellow Ukrainians and other nationalities.

He settled initially in Norfolk, and then moved to Keighley in 1950.

On his arrival in the town he immediately immersed himself in community activities, promoting awareness of Ukrainian culture, heritage and history and highlighting human rights violations by the Soviets in his homeland.

After studying draughtsmanship at Keighley College, Mr Szczur worked at Prince Smith and Stell in the town as a technical inspector of machinery.

Following the firm’s closure, he joined Airedale Hospital where he became affectionately known as ‘Peter Porter’. He worked at the hospital for over 25 years, until his retirement.

During his working life he also became an interpreter – utilising his Ukrainian, Polish and Russian language skills for various services, and latterly asylum seekers.

He married his late wife Lisa, an Austrian whom he met in Keighley, in 1952.

Mr Szczur was instrumental in setting-up a Ukrainian Saturday school – where he was one of the many teachers – and the Ukrainian Youth Association, which taught children to preserve their heritage through dance, song and maintaining traditions.The youngsters took part in events including Keighley Gala.

He was also a member of male voice choir Duma – which was the oldest-established Ukrainian choir in the UK – and sang with Manchester-based Homin, performing at the Royal Albert Hall.

Following Ukraine’s declaration of independence in 1991, Mr Szczur had a visit from his brother – who he had last seen about half a century earlier – and he travelled with his son Stephen on an emotional journey to his former family home.

After his wife died in 2004, Mr Szczur learned how to use a computer and helped by his long-time friend Ihor Rojko, compiled a book about the history of the Ukrainian Association in Keighley. The book, published in 2008, immediately sold out.

Nick Lajszczuk, a friend of Mr Szczur and fellow member of the Ukrainian Association, pays tribute.

“Peter’s work within the Ukrainian community has left a legacy which will last for generations,” he said.

“The community will be forever indebted to Peter for his commitment to Ukraine and work – not only his work for the community at large, but his efforts to ensure that generations born outside Ukraine were able to appreciate and understand their heritage and pass this down in turn to their children and generations to come.

“He will be sadly missed.”

Mr Szczur leaves his son Stephen, daughter-in-law Karen and granddaughters Helen and Sarah.