Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy (The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity) is an annual fundraising event, organised by Polish communities all over the World. The Grand Final is a day long public event held on the second Sunday in January. Events are organised locally by volunteer run collection groups. Initially established in 1993 it is the largest non Government organisation in Poland, and raises money for health care, with a focus on children and old people. The organisation is internationally recognised for it's charity work and has been given an American Heart Association certificate. In previous years they have also raised funds for a range of causes, such as the Sri Lankan Tsunami victims in 2004. They also organise the biggest free entry open air music festival in Europe, The Pol' and Rock Festival.
The event in Bognor Regis was organised by the local Polish community group WOSP Bognor Regis in the Youth and Community Center a short walk from the town centre. I went with music friend Tim. Starting late morning and running until evening, there was a great atmosphere and lots of activities. A full program of live music groups (including Brighton band Partyzanci, who played a great set as always) , Polish food stalls (delicious), raffle, photography and bric a brac stalls. Everyone was giving their time and skills for free, with all proceeds going to the WOSP charity.
In front of the main hall we met a couple of guys who were giving rides in vintage Polish cars, they'd driven the cars over from Poland the previous day. They run a travel organisation, their facebook page is here.
A few people were happily surprised to see a couple of English guys at the party. To me its a shame that more English people often don't explore events that are not predominantly in the English language. Events such as todays, and their organisers bring a richness to the cultural landscape of the UK.
As was experienced at this event (and many previous occasions) people are always welcoming and the music, food and atmosphere is great.
The final group of the night were a heavy rock group, who played an excellent lively set (although we missed the end, having to run for the train.)
Big thanks to everyone at Bognor Regis WOSP for a fantastic day.
Official Polish WOSP website is here