BRAMA, Feb 24, 2006, 1:00 pm ET|
Stefan Terlezki CBE, 1928 - 2006
Stefan Terlezki CBE (right) with Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko and First Lady Kateryna Chumachenko Yushchenko
Ukrainians in the diaspora and in Ukraine will be saddened to hear that the first Ukrainian born Member of the British Parliament, Stefan Terlezki CBE, passed away on 21 February 2006, aged 78.
Born in Antoniwka, Ukraine, he was forcibly removed by the Nazis at the age of 14 to work as a slave labourer in Austria. At the end of the war, Stefan escaped from capture by the Soviet Army, found his way to a British Army camp and subsequently arrived in Britain 'penniless' in 1948, where he settled in Wales. Through sheer hard work and an indomitable spirit he became a prominent local businessman, local Councillor and Chairman of Cardiff Football Club. In 1983, he was elected as MP for Cardiff West where he served his constituents with vigour and determination regardless of their political opinion. Given his background he was an advisor to the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on Central and matters relating to Ukraine; and the personal representative of Douglas Hurd the Foreign Secretary of the day, on the Advisory Board of International Politics at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth.
Throughout his political career and irrespective of his numerous responsibilities, he never ceased to promote the plight of Ukraine and other captive nations before the fall of the iron curtain and Ukraine's declaration of independence in 1991. His message was simple: he demanded justice, freedom and democracy for all the subjugated nations of Europe. During the 1980s he presented motions to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasburg on the right to Self Determination of Ukraine and Poland and he delivered a major speech on the same subject before the Parliamentary Assembly about the Baltic States.
He chaired or was a member of many diverse committees. Within the Ukrainian community he was very proud to be a member of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (SUB) and he served with distinction on the Association's Board of Directors from June 1993 to the present.
His knowledge, deeply-held support for freedom and democracy and good-nature won him respect and many friends both at home and abroad. Amongst his many friends were highly ranked politicians, public dignitaries, church and community leaders.
He was awarded Her Majesty the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal in recognition of his services to the public and to sport in Wales and, in 1992, in recognition of his political and public services to the UK, he received the honour of Commander of the British Empire (CBE) from HM The Queen. Various other awards followed.
In 2002 HTV (Wales) screened a one hour documentary which followed Stefan's life journey from his native village in Ukraine to the UK. Last year his autobiography "From War to Westminster" was released and launched at both the Welsh National Assembly and in the Houses of Parliament.
Stefan Terlezki was quite simply a unique person - an absolute pleasure to be with and an honour to have known!
He will be very sorely missed and remembered with respect and affection by many.
His wife Mary and their two daughters, Caryl and Helena survive him.
Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain
22 February 2006
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