The Torch at Rochdale Town Hall. In the centre, Mrs Oksana Paraszczak, Holodomor survivivor

On Tuesday 1 July, in front of Rochdale Town Hall, members of the Rochdale, Bury and Todmorden Ukrainian communities, together with guests, welcomed the Torch of Remembrance. 

As the town hall bell struck 10 o’clock, the lit torch was passed to Rochdale resident Oksana Parasczak, a survivor of the Holodomor, by AUGB members from Bradford who had hosted the Torch the day before. 

On the main rostrum were guests from the Ukrainian and English communities.  Amongst them: Rev. Bohdan Matwijczuk from the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church; the Mayor of Rochdale – Councillor Robin Parker with his wife, The Lady Mayoress and the Chaplain; Mr. Walter Duchak – chairman of the Rochdale branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB); Anna Kecyk, Chair of the Rochdale Friends of Lviv - Rochdale’s twin town in Ukraine, Mr Vyacheslav Rohoviy - the Cultural Attaché from the Ukrainian Embassy in London, Dr Askold Lozynskyj – President of the World Congress of Ukrainians from the USA; and councillors from Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council.

Anna Kecyk opened the ceremony and explained about the history of the Holodomor, revealing that the number that died was equivalent to Wembley Stadium filled 80 times over.  Mr Walter Duchak then made a welcoming speech in Ukrainian.  There followed a Prayer led by the Rev. Bohdan Matwijczuk, followed by a minute’s silence to commemorate those who starved to death in the famine.

Mrs Iryna Duchak read a “Recollection of Three Witnesses” – statements made by survivors of the famine.  All Ukrainians present then sang the mournful hymn “Vydesh Braty Miy”, together with the ladies’ choir of the Organisation of Ukrainian Women.  Mr. Vyacheslav Rohoviy gave a short address and then Dr Askold Lozynskyj gave a moving speech about the events of Holodomor – giving details of witnesses’ statements.  Councillor Robin Parker, the Mayor of Rochdale, spoke in memory of the Holodomor. He was already well informed on the subject having previously read about the events of 1932-33.  The Lady Mayoress then made a presentation to Dr Lozynskyj. The mayor and local dignitaries then signed the Book of Remembrance.

At the end of the ceremony, the Mayor’s chaplain read a prayer in English for all the victims of the famine, following which, those present sang the Ukrainian National Anthem. The distinguished guests were invited to the Mayor’s parlour for a reception, before the torch continued its journey, with Mr Walter Duchak, the chairman of the Rochdale branch, travelling with the Torch to pass it on to the Ukrainian community in Ashton.

Taras Melnyk      

Ukrayinska Dumka


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