AN Otley author has won a prestigious grant to publish a groundbreaking book about the contribution of Polish people to the UK.

The grant, awarded by the Polonia Aid Foundation Trust, will support the publication costs of the book, and follow up workshops in schools.

Brin Best, 48, who is best known to readers of the Wharfedale & Aireborough Observer for his Nature Notes, had the idea after realising that many British people do not know the many important ways in which Polish people have helped Britain over the years.

He said: “My first ice cream man as a child was Polish, yet I did not realise at the time that Mr Kubiak, whose van would call at my street each day, had fought bravely alongside British soldiers in World War II.

“The more I looked into the subject, the more surprised I was at the many vital contributions of Polish people to the UK. One of the most notorious spies of the war was a Polish special agent called Krystyna Skarbek, the Polish army was the fourth largest of the Allied campaign and 145 Polish pilots fought alongside British pilots in the Battle of Britain.”

Brin’s book, entitled Poles in the UK: A Story of Friendship and Cooperation, will also look at the many more recent contributions of Polish people. There will be interviews with doctors, teachers, business people, retail workers, factory workers, those in service industries and many more.

Brin will be collaborating with Maria Helena Zukowska, a Polish author from Leeds, to write the book, which will be the first ever published on the subject when it comes out in August this year.

More information about the project can be found at