Three people from the district have been given one of the highest Polish honours for their work in highlighting the lives of people who fought for the country’s freedom.

Romana Pizon, of Baildon, Jim Hartley, of Bradley, near Skipton, and Peter Whitaker, of Cross Hills, near Keighley, each received the Pro Memoria medal from the Polish Consul, Piotr Nowotniak, at the Polish Club in Bradford yesterday.

The two men were recommended for special recognition by Janusz Krupski, a member of the Polish Government, before he died in an air crash near Smolenski in April this year.

The crash claimed the lives of some of Poland’s leading politicians, including the President, Lech Kaczynski.

Mrs Pizon has been recognised for her work with the Bradford Polish Veterans Association.

She recently organised a trip to Monte Cassino in Italy where many Poles fell in the battle to capture the town in 1944.

Mr Hartley and Mr Whitaker received the medals for their work in establishing a memorial to seven Polish airmen who died when their Wellington bomber crashed at the side of the Leeds Liverpool canal at Bradley on September 23, 1943.

Mr Hartley, 78, a former RAF air frame mechanic, has also helped find the families of some of the airmen and taken their medals back to Poland.

Mrs Pizon, who helped the two men establish links in the country, said: “I feel very honoured to receive the medal – I feel I don’t deserve it. It has come as a complete surprise to me and I’m very moved by it and wish to thank Jim and Peter for the great work they have done to set up the memorial.”

Mr Hartley and Mr Whitaker learned of their honour in a letter from the Polish Consul. Mr Hartley said: “He told us it had been a request from Janusz Krupski before he died in that terrible crash.

“It’s a great honour for us both but it all started with us wanting to remember those Polish airman who gave their lives for the Allies. Before we got the memorial erected there was nothing to mark their deaths.”

The Pro Memoria medal was instituted in 2005 to mark 60 years since the end of the Second World War.