THE TORCH OF REMEMBRANCE AT THE LONDON ASSEMBLY

London
03.07.08


London 08.09.04
Back row from left to right : Askold Lozynskyj, Bohdan Terlecky, Deputy Mayor Richasrd Barnes, Ambassador Ihor Kharchenko, Bishop Andriy Peshko

Ukrainian Londoners, although they had greeted the Torch at its arrival at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral and then at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Sunday 29 June had been disappointed that Boris Johnson, newly elected Mayor of London had declined our invitation to accept the Torch on behalf of the capital. Then, completely unexpectedly, the Chair of the London Branch of the AUGB, Bohdan Terlecky received a phone call on Wednesday morning, 2 July, to say that in fact the Deputy Mayor, Richard Barnes, would be very pleased to accept the Torch. Two busy days followed planning the arrival of the Torch to the London Assembly.

We were extremely lucky with the change of plan and with the weather. Some 40 members of the London community gathered in their finest embroideries to meet the Torch in the afternoon of Friday 4 July – from the youngest members at 18 months old to our oldest. This is with thanks to Mrs Anna Mikulin for her efforts in contacting as many people as she could at such short notice.

The gathering took place in the lower hall of the Assembly, where a google map of London is printed. Orest Andrijiw arrived punctually with the Torch and the book of remembrance, having arrived late the previous evening from the Torch’s trip to Cardiff and Cheltenham. Londoners are very proud that an active member of their community volunteered to drive the Torch to all its UK destinations, covering over 2,500 miles in five days. Orest also took the initiative to have the Torch logo imprinted on his car.

The Ambassador, Ihor Kharchenko, together with Viacheslav Yatsiuk, Vladyslav Rohoviy from the Ukrainian Embassy, and Askold Lozynskj, Zenko Lastowecki, Fedir Kurlak and Martyn Khymera, officially handed the live Torch to Richard Barnes, Deputy Mayor of London. The presentation of the Torch took place in front of the London Assembly, with Tower Bridge looming in the background.

The VIPs then made their way down to the lower hall, where the Ambassador spoke of horrors of the Holodomor, and the tragic and unnecessary deaths of 7 million Ukrainian souls. His Excellency Ihor Kharchenko immediately invited Richard Barnes to join us in our commemoration of the Holodomor on 22 November this year. Bishop Andriy led the gathering in a short prayer of remembrance for the souls of the departed 7 million, followed by a short and pertinent speech by Askold Lozynskyi. Bohdan Terlecky then asked that the world acknowledges the full horror of Stalin’s crimes so that the victims are able to take their rightful place in 20th century history. The Deputy Mayor concluded by saying he did not know enough about the Holodomor, but had recently learnt much about it, adding he was shocked that at least 7 million innocent victims had died – nearly the whole population of central London, something that defied imagination and concluded by saying that such a tragedy should never be allowed to happen again.

The arrival of the Torch in the London Assembly was completed once the Deputy Mayor signed the Book of Remembrance. It then began the last stages of its journey in the UK to Nottingham before its final destination to Tarasivka.

Just as this article was being completed, an email arrived from the organiser at the London Assembly, saying “It was indeed a very splendid occasion. It was sombre and serious, yet conveyed a real sense of hope. I know that the Deputy Mayor thought it was a very good event.”

 



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