By Taras Melnyk, Rochdale.

On Friday 21st November 2014, the Rochdale Friends of Lviv and the Rochdale branch of Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain held a memorial service at the ‘Holodomor’ Monument in the Memorial Gardens in the town centre opposite the Town Hall. Representatives from the town gathered to honour the memory of 7-10 million innocent men, women and children who were barbarically and systematically starved to death by the enforced terrible man-made Famine that was inflicted by Josef Stalin in 1932-33 to the poor people of Ukraine.

This is known as “Holodomor” meaning ” forced death by hunger.”

Among those present were: Rev. Father Jaroslav Riy, Rev. Father Volodymyr Sampara (UGCC), the former vicar of Rochdale - The Rev. Canon Alan Shackleton, Rochdale Mayor Cllr. Carol Wardle and Mayoress Mrs. Beverly Place, the Leader and Councillors of Rochdale MBC, The Member of Parliament for Rochdale Simon Danczuk MP and his wife Cllr. Karen Danczuk and members of the Ukrainian community from Rochdale, Todmorden, Manchester, Bury and surrounding areas.

At 11.30 am the procession made its way to the Holodomor Monument. In her opening remarks Anna Kecyk, Chair of Rochdale Friends of Lviv & Holodomor Committee stressed the importance of remembering the victims of Holodomor and that we all share a responsibility to ensure that such atrocities never happen again.

Wreaths were laid at the monument by the Mayor Cllr. Carol Wardle and Mayoress Mrs. Beverly Place, Simon Danczuk MP and Anna Lyssejko on behalf of The Rochdale Friends of Lviv and AUGB (Rochdale).  A Minute’s Silence was observed followed by a Memorial Service conducted by Rev. Father Yaroslav Riy, Rev. Father Volodymyr Sampara (UGCC) and The Rev Canon Alan Shackleton (Former Vicar of Rochdale).

The programme continued at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre. Anna Kecyk invited everyone present to stand and to observe a ‘Minute’s Silence’ by honouring the dead and ‘Lighting of the Candles’.  To the recording of the ringing of bells, Maria Kopczyk Chair of the Rochdale Association of Ukrainian Women and of the Ukrainian Youth Association lit one candle for the innocent victims of the ”Holodomor”; the second candle was lit by the Rochdale Chair of the AUGB, Bohdan Lisnyj, in memory of the fallen heroes of "Euromaidan" and the soldiers and civilians who defend the illegal occupation of Eastern Ukraine.

The programme continued with the showing of “The Living” a film by Serhiy Bukovsky, which had a great impression on the audience in the hall. Furthermore, the slides following represented the current events that are happening in Eastern Ukraine. Following the film The Mayor was invited to say a few words. She was deeply touched by the film as a mother she was very sympathetic and shocked at what it portrayed.

Additionally the former leader of Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council Irene Davidson, explained how in 2008 Rochdale MBC recognized the Holodomor as an act of genocide. It was the second Borough Council in Britain to acknowledge this.

A poem was read by Anna Lyssejko in English ”Voice of Hope” by Iryna Voytenko a young writer from Ukraine who won first place in a young person’s literary competition.

In her closing remarks Anna Kecyk reminded everyone that the Holodomor Memorial in The Rochdale Memorial Gardens will always stand in eternal memory to the victims of the Holodomor for posterity, honouring the truth and may be viewed by all as a lasting reminder to the people, who were the tragic victims of this Famine in Ukraine.

She called upon every Ukrainian community in Great Britain to approach their own local Council and request permission for a Holodomor Memorial to be placed in their own town centres, thus honouring the Holodomor victims and promoting International recognition.

She concluded that up to the present day in Eastern Ukraine, more than 4,000 innocent people have been killed due to them wanting to live in a Free, Independent and Democratic Country.  We believe and pray that Love and Peace will conquer evil, and that Ukraine will remain one Nation.

She thanked the guests and everyone for attending and the support from other towns.

The commemoration concluded with the singing of "The Prayer for Ukraine which is “Bozhe, Velykyj Yedynyj”.

Addditional information and photographs can be found on the website "Rochdale Online”:



Ukrayinska Dumka


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