The Ukrainian Centre marks four decades of family fun and celebrations in Doncaster
It was 1952 when the Ukrainian Association in Doncaster was formed, with the aim of providing a cultural and social centre for the town’s Ukrainian community, exiled from its homeland by Ukraine’s absorption into Soviet Russia.
For many years, Ukrainian families met socially, at various public venues throughout Doncaster, to celebrate cultural and religious events. And then, in 1979, the bold decision was taken – at a meeting at the White Bear pub – to purchase a building on Beckett Road. This became The Ukrainian Centre.
Early members dedicated their time to renovating the building, even constructing the solid bar that still stands there to this day. The group then took on the day-to-day running of the club which, despite being one of the last to be opened in the UK, was a great success. Membership swelled to 150 Ukrainian, and 100 non-Ukrainian members. Four decades on, it has seen weddings, festivals, visits by Ambassadors and Mayors, Ukrainian touring sports teams, dance, opera and music troupes.
This month, the centre brought its members together once more to celebrate 40 years since its opening with a dinner, which included traditional Ukrainian dancers and singers.
Club chairman Paul Iwanyckyj said: “The centre is used far more by other user groups these days, including Roots Music Club and Doncaster Folk Festival, so it’s great to put on evenings like this, and share it not only with one or two original members from my father’s generation, but also their children, grand-children and even great grand-children.
“As well as a film, showing the founding members sawing wood, decorating and hammering together the centre’s current bar, tribute was paid to the first generation Ukrainians who battled through daily challenges to forge a thriving life and community for themselves in Doncaster.”