STORIES of those who travelled from Auschwitz county to Bradford were shared during a special Polish Week at Appleton Academy.

Project Polish, backed by the Polish Embassy in London and British Embassy in Warsaw, saw dignitaries from Auschwitz, or Oswiecim in Polish, uncover heritage of past generations and celebrate the positive contribution made by Poles to culture and the economy in Britain.

Pupils discussed stereotypes about Poland, what it's like to witness the Auschwitz memorial, the lives of those who lived through war horror but also how Poles in Bradford celebrate their heritage and culture.

The event was organised by Aleksandra Marcinkowska, the chief executive of charity UK Butterflies LTD and one of the first Polish speaking immigration advisors in the country, and David Huse, chair of Project Polish.

One of those sharing her story was Dominika Marcinkowska, who was born in Oswiecim but moved to Bradford aged five.

She said: "It’s important that young people know how important Poland is in our Polish/British history and partnership. It is important to break stereotypes about Poland and educate young people about different cultures, especially that Polish is the first common spoken language in Bradford and the Polish community is the biggest representative of the EU community in Bradford.

"I was only five when we moved to the UK but I love Poland and the history. Being fully bilingual makes my life great."

The reaction from more than 450 students involved was overwhelmingly positive with one pupil admitting they never met anyone from Poland until last week.

It is hoped the city will learn from the young people who were described as "receptive" by hosts for listening with an open-mind.

One student said: "I learnt that Poland is a better place than what people and I think" while another told how they think Polish culture is "amazing".

The visit to Bradford was so positive that the head of the Oswiecim county, Marcin Niedziela, wrote a letter to thank the school and organisations involved.

Mr Niedziela said: "We have this opportunity to celebrate the connections between Poland and the UK and the varied contribution of Polish people to British life. Please also remember a special day, Day of Holocaust - January 27.

"I can't thank you all enough for your engagement and remembrance about Auschwitz, human rights, equality, diversity and respect. I encourage you to work together to show other communities what it best in our culture and national character, to build bridges and to promote Poland and its traditions.

"I would like this idea to be permanently recorded in the Bradford educational scheme in the coming years.

"Polish Week Celebration will not only remind Poles that they can be proud of the fact they are Poles, but also show the British, and actually remind us of our presence in their country for many, many years."

Other people included in Polish Week were Barry Cusack and Matt Henderson from Bradford Council's Stronger Communities Together; Mick Chandsoor, lead of Bradford Education Department; Mikolaj Oledzki from Leeds Rhinos; Dorota Plata from The Good Shepherd Centre and teachers from Appleton Academy.