​​Maria  JURALEWICZ (nee Sztela) [1930 - 2015]                                          

[Translated from the original]

Maria was born on 20 December 1930 on a military settlement, Osada Karłowicze, Polesie where she spent a lovely childhood with her parents and her elder siblings, Władzia and Staś. She was nine years old when her fortune changed to a nightmare. On 10 February 1940, together with her family, she was deported to posiolek Nucht-Oziero in Archangelsk, the depths of the USSR.

In exile, she lost both her parents and, as an orphan, in 1942 with the Polish orphanage together with her sister and her brother, she reached India via Persia. Her brother Staś joined the Cadets and left for Palestine, and she with Władzia spent five years in Valivade. She would recall these years with affection and gratitude to the good and wise educators (the good and wise group of individuals responsible for her welfare and education during these years). For the children whom fate had dealt a cruel loss, they managed to create a substitute family hearth. Moreover, the Church, school, scouts, sports and friendships ensured that this youth grew into an exceptionally-valued people.

After the war in 1947, together with Władzia, she arrived in England to join Staś who had arrived with the 2nd Corps. She finished her education in Stowell Park, and married in November 1948.  A year later, her daughter, Grażyna, was born.  They waited ten years for their second, Bernadeta.  They settled in Rochdale, Lancs. Pani Maria (she was thus called) threw herself into a whirl of social and organisational work, and for many years she was a pillar of activities in this area. 

From the very beginning, she was closely tied with the Parish, for which, together with her sister, she worked for over 60 years.  She belonged to and was actively involved in the Akcja Katolicka (Catholic Action), SPK (Polish Combatants’ Association), OROK (Association of the Families of the Eastern Borderlands) and Koło Polaków z Indii (the Polish Circle from India). She was the Headteacher of the Polish Saturday School for many years, and Chairperson of KSMP (Polish Catholic Youth Association). She organised commemorative events and performances.  She sewed national costumes. She was a local correspondent to the Polish Daily. She helped everywhere she could, and always with humour.

Apart from this, she ran a home, she looked after her husband and daughters, bringing them up as good Polish individuals.

As a daughter of a settler, she enjoyed working in the garden.  She had a beautiful fruit-vegetable garden. She loved to read, particularly books about history.  She was very interested in reading literature about the 2nd World War.

And in this way she spent her very busy years, until illness began to strike. Persuaded by her daughter, she decided to leave Rochdale and moved in with her in a charming nook in North Devon.  Under the protective care of Grażynka, she was very happy.  Unfortunately, not for long. She died after two years, on 19 June 2015. She left two wonderful, loving daughters, Grażynka and Bernadeta, three granddaughters, one grandson and one great-grandson in deep sadness, but with the most beautiful memories of an extraordinary mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She had the gift of bringing people together and so left behind many friends who will remember her with gratitude, since she exemplified just how much good one can do in one’s life.

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