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km_shield_lgAssociation of Polish Knights of Malta UK

Dr. Marek Stella-Sawicki MBE KM—an interview with Polarity International


Knights of Malta ArmorialKnights of Malta ArmorialQ:  The Association of Polish Knights of Malta UK or APKM UK was established as a British Charity organisation in the UK in 2002 to carry on the noble work of the Order of Malta. Could you share some insight with our readers on the circumstances of its establishment?

A:  The Order of Malta is almost 1,000 years old. The Knights of Malta’s turbulent history covered many countries.  The Polish Order continued its presence in the UK, since the WWII, because of communism which did not allowed it to function properly in Poland. Despite the war and the 1944 Warsaw Rising, the Knights of Malta Hospital in Warsaw was fully operational from the first to last day of the Rising.  Changes in Poland’s political situation allowed Polish Order to return home, however because of the number of knights in the UK, a separate arm also became a British charity organisation.

Q:  Who were the key people involved in the initial stage of setting up APKM UK?

A:  Since 2002 the Association of the Polish Knights of Malta UK was re-established in the UK as APMK UK and continued here through the massive effort of Dr. Andrzej Meeson-Kielanowski as the organisation’s chairman. When he passed away a year ago, I was elected in his place in 2012.

Q:  How APKM UK has managed to connect a vibrant and – shall we say – quite an elite group of people sharing Polish heritage and, more importantly, involve them in the shared objective to help less fortunate?

A:  The Polish Knights of Malta UK carry on their charity work mainly in support of the Order in Poland but the Sovereign Order of Malta is active all over the world. There are Polish Knights, Dames and Clergy in US, UK, Vatican, Switzerland, Italy, Luxemburg, Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Spain, Canada and Poland (Centres in Warsaw, Cracow, Katowice, Poznań, Olsztyn in Klebark).  In the global Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta there are some 75,000 volunteers who are crucial to our work and come from different countries and nationalities.  We are non-political—only charity work is on our agenda.

Q:  Please tell us about your own involvement with APKM UK as the organisation’s Chairman. What are your main duties and how do you manage to combine your charity work with other duties?

A:  I run an extremely busy schedule and do everything which is necessary to ensure APKM UK has its fund raising challenges met.  This is in addition to my professional work.

Q:   Could you please tell me about APKM UK main projects?

A:   The working goals of the Polish Order of Malta in the past years included supporting a disabled children’s hospital in Cracow (a day hospital with over 20,000 patients and their families a year) and a brand new Oncology Centre Project in Poznań.  Some 8,500 patients per annum are treated there and there is a hospice to support people in their last moments of life. One million zloty was sent to Poland over the last 5 years.  We had a massive support for the previous projects especially, the Disabled Children hospital in Cracow. We also participate with the soup kitchens, visiting old people homes and other events. In 2009 we worked on the Polish War Memorial in National Memorial Arboretum in Shropshire. Every year to celebrate the feast of St. John in June we hold a Mass in Balham or Brompton Oratory. We hold once or twice a year fundraising events.

Q:   APKM UK has agreed to organise a fundraising event in the Polish Embassy in London with another charity, Polish Psychologists Association, which was established 5 years ago. Do you see it as a way of building a bridge between “the old” migration and “the new” wave of Polish migrants?

A:   We really appreciate the work of PPA and want to support it with our many years of experience in fund raising. The high number of a tragic suicides amongst young Poles in the UK has raised alarm so we were in touch with consulates in Manchester and London with our proposals. When we learnt about PPA we invited its CEO, Ania Lichota, for a meeting and that’s how the idea of an event in the Embassy was born.

Thank you.