I was born Adrian Alexander Żółkowski in 1945 and my father was an officer in the Polish Airforce stationed in Norfolk from 1941. After he was demobbed in 1948, he and his English wife, Winifred, changed the family name to O’dell after they had randomly selected the name from a telephone directory. He adopted British citizenship and spent the rest of his life in Norwich until he died in 2003. In my early days I had constant contact with Poles (and many other nationalities) who came to our house or whom we mixed with socially and, although my Polish language is very basic, we always ate Polish food and my parents maintained Polish traditions.
As a result, I have a strong affiliation with all things Polish and that is why I was delighted when the Norfolk Polish Heritage Group was formed in 2016 and I became the first Chair. One of my objectives and that of the NPHG is to help develop community involvement with the story of immigrant Polish communities in Norfolk and to strengthen bonds between the people of Norfolk and beyond and the Polish diaspora. I hope that people of Norfolk will have a clearer understanding of the critical contribution made by members of the Polish armed forces to the war-effort during WW II and that there will be a greater understanding of how Poles who stayed-on in integrated and intermarried into British society, adding rich cultural diversity.
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