A statue of Irena Sendler was unveiled at Newark’s Fountain Gardens on London Road during a small COVID-secure ceremony held on 26th June.
Few people in the UK may know of Polish humanitarian hero Irena Sendler and the sacrifices she made during World War II. But her story is one of monumental importance and one that Newark and Sherwood District Council, Newark Town Council and the Polish Cultural Institute in London wanted to share.
During World War II Irena worked tirelessly to help protect and rescue many Jewish children and their families. She was part of a network of workers and volunteers from that department, mostly women, who smuggled Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto.
It is estimated that Irena, who passed away in May 2008, saved many hundreds of Jewish children.
Newark has a long history with Polish culture and Polish service personnel during World War II. Many Polish airmen were stationed in Newark during the Second World War and the town has a significant number of Polish war graves. It is also twinned with the city of Sandomierz.
Following the unveiling, wreaths were laid at Polish War graves in Newark Cemetery on London Road in a mark of respect to all those who lost their lives during conflict.
The statue was created by sculptor Andrew Lilley and sits in the Fountain Gardens on London Road which is a highly visible location as a gateway into the town. The fountain in the garden is dedicated to Nurse Ethel Harrison who drowned trying to rescue a child in the early 1900s. It is hoped that the gardens will be further developed to represent more acts of heroism displayed by Irena and Ethel so their actions will never be forgotten.