Our Club's success is owed to many of its members hard work. Today we interview and acknowledge the work one of our oldest and most dedicated members, Mr Dumskyj.
What is your full name?
I am known to my friends as Denis Dumskyj. My proper name is Deonizyj Dumskyj (Діонізий Думський).
Can you tell us a bit about your heritage?
I was born in September 1927 in Western Ukraine in the village called Mozoliwka, district of Pidhaitsi, Ternopil region. My parents were Greek Catholics and I was christened in the village Greek Catholic Church. I attended the village school from the age of seven and finished my education at the age of fifteen. I wanted to extend my education but unfortunately my parents could not afford to send me to a college or university as my older sister already attended college in Buchach approximately 20km from the village. These were tough times not only for my family but also for all Ukrainian people.
From my birth I have lived under three occupants of our Country; under Polish occupation until 1939 then Russian until 1941 and then under German occupation until 1944. I was taken to Germany by force in June 1944 together with my school friends and acquaintances. We were taken to the nearest railway station and put into locked cattle wagons. There were approximately 40 people to a wagon. Once a day the train would pull into the siding and we were given some bread and water. The journey lasted 2 weeks, it was a horrendous journey. After the war I was in a displaced persons camp until 1947. That was the year when I was given an opportunity to go to England.
What is your professional background?
First I worked on the land. We were taken from the camp to the farms by army truck. When the camp closed people went their own way. I went to live on the farm. My next job was as a bus conductor and then bus driver with West Riding Bus Co. at the depot at Selby, North Yorkshire. Our small Ukrainian community in Selby consisted of 19 people and I am pleased to say that all were members of Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain Ltd. I was active in our community in Selby.
Our children were growing and we wanted to be nearer a bigger Ukrainian community. We moved to a small holding called Hill Top Farm between Huddersfield and Dewsbury in 1967. I got a job as truck driver at Fan Systems Co. at Slaithwaite. When the buyer of the Company left I applied for the job and was given it on trial for three months but remained in the post for sixteen years until I was made redundant in 1983. After that I ran a mobile green grocery shop until my retirement.
How did you first get involved with Huddersfield Ukrainian Club?
I joined the Association of Ukrainian in Great Britain Huddersfield Branch in 1967, when I moved to this district from Selby. The Branch was already at the present premises. I first got elected on to AUGB committee in 1968 at its AGM. Over the years I have served on several committees including the Club Committee. I think it was in 1981 when I was elected to be Chairman of the Club Committee and have been re-elected each consecutive year until Club AGM in 2000 when I proposed that John Kybaluk be elected as Chairman.
When you first started working at Huddersfield Ukrainian Club, what were its main challenges?
The Club always has been part of the Association of Ukrainians. They were the same members except for social members. For a long time we had financial difficulties as we were a fairly new organisation that tried to get on its feet. The premises were purchased by the generosity of the members. Some donated money and others lent money.
The bar was like a little well that produced some funds for our organisation. The bar was staffed by volunteers. Eventually over the years we came through the difficulties, with the help of determined and dedicated leadership from the community.
What is your earliest memory of Huddersfield Ukrainian Club?
When I was first elected as a member of AUGB Huddersfield Branch committee, I was given a job as Home Administrator. At the committee meetings we made plans to upgrade the front forecourt over the Honley Feast extended weekend. I put up a notice up explaining what the committee planed to do and asked for volunteers. To my pleasant surprise over 40 people turned up at 8 o’clock on that Saturday morning fully equipped with picks and shovels. It proved how much the Club meant to them and they were ready to sacrifice their rest days to do any improvements to their much loved Club like it was a second home.
Looking back, what are the main changes you have witnessed at the Ukrainian Club over the years?
A lot of changes have taken place during my membership at AUGB Huddersfield Branch. Gas central heating was installed, the hall enlarged, the bar transferred to present larger room and modernised, the kitchen modernised (now ready to be done again), the toilets modernised and generally all the places down stairs kept in good decorative condition. The outside drive, forecourt and car park have recently been renewed and the gardens look splendid. A big thank to Roman Tymchak and his wife Pauline for their hard graft in the gardens.
What does Huddersfield Ukrainian Club mean to you?
I love the place. I have been associating with the place for a very long time. It is a place that we can call our own a bit of Ukraine, where we can promote and preserve Ukrainian traditions and culture.
What are your top 3 favourite memories from the Ukrainian Club?
My favourite memories are the celebration of Ukrainian Independence in 1991 and the celebrations of the 50th and 70th anniversaries of the Club.
Do you have a message for the future Ukrainian generation in our community?
Please do not forget your parents or grandparents roots. Be proud of your Ukrainian name, join the Ukrainian community and help to promote Ukrainian traditions and culture. Together you can do it.
A Final Word from our Chairman, John Kybaluk
Mr Dumskyj has been pivotal in helping to create our vibrant and welcoming Ukrainian community in Huddersfield. We are incredibly grateful for his years of dedication and vision, and wholeheartedly express our gratitude.
Denis is a well-respected and long-standing member of the committee.
He has held various roles including Chairman of the Club Committee and Secretary.
Now in his nineties, he is still supporting and advising the other committee members.