Helena Block-Piotrowski (19 Apr 1920 - 31 Jan 2016)

Donate in memory of
HelenaThe British Red Cross Society

£180.00 + Gift Aid of £12.50
In partnership with

Funeral Service

Location
Basingstoke Crematorium Stockbridge Road Basingstoke RG25 2BA
Date
12th Feb 2016
Time
4.15pm
Funeral Director
Spencer & Peyton, Basingstoke

In loving memory of Halina Junosza Piotrowska who passed away peacefully in her sleep on 31 January 2016 aged 95 years.

She is now reunited with many loved ones and many dear friends but leaves behind children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to mourn her passing.

The Funeral Service will take place at Basingstoke Crematorium on 12 February at 4.15pm.
There will be no reception following the funeral.

Family flowers only please.
Donations, if desired, to the Red Cross which Halina supported throughout her life.

Yvonne Johnson posted a picture
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Yvonne Johnson wrote

Eulogy read by Paul at the Funeral

It’s a sad day but also a day to celebrate the life of Helena. I will call her Babcia as that’s the way she was known to us all. She was born on the 19 April 1920 in Sniatyn, a town in south east Poland with a large railway station close to the Romanian border.
Babcia’s father worked at the station and so the whole family lived there. She grew up in a very different time. People made their own clothes, they grew their own food and they wasted nothing. If it was broken you had to mend it, rarely did you just go to a shop and buy a new one like you can today.
She often told us how she had to walk 5 kilometres to school and, of course, 5 more back each day. If she had some after school activity she would walk it again. Maybe that was why she was so fit and active all her life.
In 1939 just a few months before world war two started she married Eugene. He was the manager of a saw mill and a figure of some standing within the community. When the Russians came at the beginning of the war, Eugene was taken to Siberia with other leading men from the community. Babcia went to Czechoslovakia where Eugene’s family were living. She had a talent for languages and already spoke German fluently, so well in fact, that she was actually thought to be German.
Babcia found work in a factory admin office where she helped the manager who had little skill for the job, but he had been appointed by the Germans. He was grateful for her help and showed his appreciation by giving Babcia extra food, which she parcelled up and sent to her family at home in Sniatyn. She told me that one time her family was eating grass and nettles when one of her parcels came and that they didn’t know how they would have survived without them.
She heard nothing from Eugene and people thought it was unlikely he would have survived but she said she always felt he was alive. At the end of the war she heard he was in Italy and she set off to find him. She got to the Italian border with false papers showing her as a Red Cross nurse, but the border guard said they had enough nurses and she was refused entry. Babcia not being one to give up, found a guide and joined a party of others trying to enter the country over the mountains by night. Eventually she was reunited with Eugene and they were shipped to England. They were given a chance to repatriate and go back to Poland but Poland was held by Russians after the war. Eugene, who had been held by the Russians for a couple of years, said he would never return as long as the Russians were in charge.
They spent the next two years in the refugee camp at Mancel Stacy just outside of Hereford. During that time Yvonne was born and eventually they moved to Leicester. Times were hard in England after the war but Babcia, as always, made the most of it. She took in lodgers and taught herself to cook, becoming very good at it as many of us can testify. That was the beginning of her new life. In 1952 Adam was born and in 1955 she opened a Polish shop, the first one in Leicester. She bought a car and, as I recall, was very proud when she told me she had passed her test the first time. She was always working to make the most of things; at one time even finishing factory produced socks to earn extra money. Her hard worked paid off when she bought her house in Linden Drive and then subsequently her beloved bungalow a few doors down the street from the house.
She loved to travel so when she retired in 1985, she and her second husband Wladek travelled all over the world. In Machu Picchu she said the guide had told her that at the age 62 she was too old to climb to the summit, but she could follow along behind and they would meet her on the way back. So she followed and one by one the party members dropped out, until she was the only one that made it to the summit with the guide.
Retirement just gave her more time to devote herself to other things, like the local Polish church in Leicester and she sang in the Polish choir. She organised concerts and worked as secretary for various Polish clubs and societies.
She said to me once that when people found out how old she was they would say, “But you look so young”, and she would reply that she didn’t have time to grow old.
In 1990 she took over as editor of the Leicester Polish quarterly magazine ‘Polonia’ and continued editing and writing the magazine for over 20 years. In the later years Yvonne bought her a computer and although initially it gave her some problems she mastered it and produced the magazine on it for some years
She could speak 5 languages fluently and worked as an interpreter for the Leicestershire Police, only stopping when the late night call outs became too much for her; by this time she was well into her eighties.
Throughout her life she continued to make her own clothes and had an extensive wardrobe. She was always elegantly dressed and never bought a ready-made dress in her life.
After Wladek passed away Babcia dedicated herself to raising money for the Polish Church of her hometown Sniatyn and she visited there often.
About that time she came to visit us in Kuwait. We took her sailing and I remember walking along the jetty trying to keep up with her, as she was still quite capable of stepping it out. She had her handbag, her glasses and her sun glasses all hanging in a tangle around her neck; no need for a stick or an arm to support her. We got to the boat and it was quite a step up from the jetty so I put down the icebox and said I would find some steps. The next thing I knew she had taken hold of the shroud cables and got her foot up a good two feet onto the boat and with an “Ups a Daisy,” she hoisted herself on board like a spring chicken. She was a remarkable woman.
Babcia particularly loved her two granddaughters and whereas she became confused in other areas towards the end, she always knew them and looked forward to seeing them. Her other great joy were her great-grandsons, she loved seeing them play and always had sweets for them. It was so good that she lived to meet all three.
Babcia was fit and active almost to the end. She took no medication, she had no illness. Like a flower she blossomed, wilted, and then passed away peacefully in her sleep. She was happy to go, content in the belief that she was going to a good place, where she would be reunited with all those who had gone before.
‘Finito Benito’ Babcia. Rest in Peace

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Chris Johnson donated in memory of Helena

May she be looking down smiling today at all the people coming together to say goodbye.
Love Chris, Ollie and Sam

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Deborah Thorpe donated £10 in memory of Helena

Dear Yvonne, Paul and family
So very sorry to hear of Helena's passing. Though I only knew Helena for a short time I knew her to be a very sweet lady with a remarkable history. My thoughts are with you at this time of loss.
Much love
Deborah ( Crown Homecare)

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Lauren Harrington wrote

We see so sorry for your loss. We are thinking of you all and wishing you peace and the comfort of fond and loving memories. With love, Lauren, Matt, Basha, Sylvie and Pearl

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Lauren Harrington donated in memory of Helena

With heartfelt sympathy

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Yvonne Tsakiris wrote

To Elle, Bob and Yvonne. I was so sorry to hear the sad news. Thinking of you all at this difficult time. Big hugs.

I remember meeting your babcia is Leicester. She wasn't very impressed with our belly button rings! :-) xxx

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Karen Brakoniecki donated £34.70 in memory of Helena

Dear Yvonne, Elle, and Bob,
I was so sorry to hear that Babcia has died. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy. I know how much you all loved her and she will be deeply missed. After seeing the pictures you posted, I want to hear more about her extraordinary life.

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Eleanor Brakoniecki posted a picture

Babcia with Joe and Jake x

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Comments

  • Such a lovely photo Elle. She always looked so glamourous. X

    Posted by Yvonne on 8/02/2016 Report abuse
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Family photo taken around 1937

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Rio de Janeiro 1982

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Scaling Huayna Picchu in 1982

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Rome 1993

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Lead singer in the Polish Choir in Leicester 1994

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Hela and Wladek in 1995

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With friends 1995

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Family Christmas 1996

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The twins visiting their birthplace in 1996

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Stargard Szczecinski 1996

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Halina outside her beloved bungalow in Leicester 1997

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Organising Polish 3 May concert in Leicester

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With Polish 6th Armoured Cavalry Brigade 2003

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