By Andy Hirst
A Huddersfield historian sickened by the brutality of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is trekking 50 miles non-stop this weekend to raise money to help the war victims.
Frank Grombir, 36, of Marsh, was a Huddersfield Local History Society committee member for many years and has long promoted the history of Huddersfield’s migrant communities fleeing Nazi and Communist totalitarianism through public talks and organised heritage walks.
He said: “I take Putin’s brutal assault on Ukraine very personally. My birth country, Czechia, formerly Czechoslovakia, was part of the Eastern Bloc and was effectively controlled by the Kremlin between 1948 and 1989. Stories from the Communist era were part of my family upbringing.”
He said Czechia is a member of NATO and the EU so it stands a better chance of defending itself against foreign aggression unlike Ukraine which has not joined either.
But Frank warns: “However, Putin’s unpredictable behaviour has demonstrated that no country can feel completely safe.”
Frank, who has also researched the history of the movement of Ukrainians to the UK, added: “Ever since they arrived in Britain in 1947-48 the Ukrainians have spread awareness about atrocities perpetrated by the Soviet regime and campaigned for their homeland’s independence.
“Very often their protests fell on deaf ears locally. However, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February finally sent shock waves through the western world, triggering unprecedented solidarity and interest in the Ukrainian affairs.
“I’m organising this sponsored walk because I cannot just stand by and watch how Ukraine is becoming a Russian satellite once again. The Ukrainian people need all our support and I want to do my bit to help them out. I think neutrality in this situation can be counterproductive. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in one of his speeches: ‘In a situation of injustice and oppression you have to take sides.’’’
Frank worked at Huddersfield Local Studies Library from 2009 to 2021 and is now the school librarian and learning resource centre manager at North Huddersfield Trust School in Fartown.
He will walk the entire length of the Calderdale Way with Polish friend 50-year-old Robert Młodawski who lives in Thornton Lodge to raise money for the Disaster Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. They start at 6am on Saturday and hope to complete it in 24 hours, walking all through Saturday night.
The Calderdale Way starts in Greetland and goes around Halifax, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden following old packhorse routes across the moors and into the hillside villages and old mill towns on the banks of the River Calder.
The walk is more than 50 miles – the distance of two marathons – with a total climb of 9,000ft which is twice the height of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK.
Frank added: “The longest distance I have ever walked is 30 miles. Therefore, this will be no easy feat for me and will probably involve some blisters and fatigue but it is nothing compared with what many Ukrainians have to go through right now. They are true superheroes as they have bravely stood up to the Russian army against all odds.”
Frank’s goal is to raise at least £1,000 which could provide emergency food for 10 families for one month.
He’s set himself some targets as the money rolls in.
When 25% is raised he’ll go wild camping and raise the Ukrainian flag above his tent.
When 50% is in the bag he’ll shave his head even though he thinks people won’t recognise him anymore.
Once he’s up to 75% he’ll sing the Ukrainian anthem on camera and share it on social media.
If all of it is raised he’ll go wild swimming which he’s never done before.
We’ve some news for Frank. More than £800 has already been raised so he’ll be doing everything except his wild swimming … so far!
To sponsor Frank go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/frank-grombir
* Tell us what you’re doing for Ukraine by emailing email@example.com and don’t forget to include photos add in your phone number so we can get back to you if necessary.
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.