Skupnost Barka, the Slovenian community of people with disturbed mental development, gave this picture to the British-Slovene Society in the UK in recognition of the support the Society has provided to the charity over the years.
David Lloyd, president of the BSS, brought the picture to the Society’s annual Christmas Service at the Church of St Andrew-in-the-Wardrobe in London on 13th December. He presented it to Reverend Guy Treweek to hang in the Church.
At this year’s Service, the congregation donated a record £287 pounds (and 5 euro), which will be sent to Barka with our best wishes.
Lessons, carols, a superb choir and fresh potica flown in from Kranjska Gora featured in the annual British-Slovene Society Christmas Service at St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe Church in the City of London on 13th December.
Participants read the traditional lessons from the Bible telling the Christmas story in Slovene and English. A packed congregation – there was hardly a seat to spare – heartily sang favourite carols in both languages.
The Gallus choir again led way, their soaring tones inspiring the faithful to sing forth at full throat.
For the first time, children from British-Slovene families in the UK performed some of the readings.
Afterwards, all stayed to toast each other with Slovene wine kindly offered by the Slovenian Embassy. Keith and Slava Miles, who organised the service, flew back 15 loaves of potica in their luggage from Slovenia. All were gone by the time people wended their way out into the London night.
Conducting the service was the Reverend Guy Treweek, who once more kindly made the Wren Church of St Andrew’s-by-the-Wardrobe available for one of the highlights of the British-Slovene season.
Photos by Janez Strah and Evelina Ferrar
Janez Strah is a photographer who learned about Skupnost Barka through the British-Slovene Society, which has been supporting the charity over a number of years. Every year he visits the group at the beginning of December and brings along St. Nicholas, an angel and presents for everybody. Barka is a community of people with special needs in Slovenia.
Here is a letter we received from Barka describing the evening with singing and distributing of gifts:
Na predvečer praznika svetega Miklavža smo v skupnosti Barka gostili samega Miklavža. Pripeljal se je v spremstvu angela pomočnika, mladih kitaristk in pevcev. Nestrpno smo v večernem mraku člani skupnosti v jedilnici čakali na starega moža. Prišel je počasi, se naslanjal na svojo palico in nas vse pozdravil. V rokah je nosil Zlato knjigo. Koliko lepih stvari je bilo zapisanih v njej. Da ima naša Irena zelo rada svojega nečaka Gregorja, da Kristina z veseljem pomaga pri kuhanju, da Tanja natančno in lepo šiva,.. Nekaj nas je od Miklavža dobilo tudi prijazen opomin ali spodbudo: Rok lahko malo več telovadi, Lucija naj pove, kaj ji je zares všeč,…
Miklavž nas je vse razveselil z darilci. Spomnil se je tudi naših kuharjev, prostovoljcev v obeh hišah in otrok. Med obdarovanjem smo večkrat zapeli in – ne boste verjeli – kitaro je v roke vzel in nanjo zabrenkal celo sveti Miklavž!
Rok je dobremu možu narisal sliko in se z njim fotografiral, vsi pa smo se pogostili s piškoti, sokom in mandarinami.
Upamo, da nas bo drugo leto sveti Miklavž spet obiskal, ker smo skupaj preživeli en lep večer.
Mateja Tomšič de Zarate
Lisa Hirsch spent her pre-war teenage years in Maribor, now Slovenia and then part of Yugoslavia. However that’s not where the family originated from. Born in 1919, she spent her first years in Fürth in Bavaria. When Hitler came to power in 1933, the family had to leave, for they were Jews.
As the war drew near, Maribor wasn’t safe either. Sponsored by her uncle, a founder member of Marks & Spencer, she was able to come to England at the age of 19 in 1938. Soon her family could join her in London. Lisa was supposed to study English, but applied for a job at the BBC.
After a brief interview to test whether she could speak clearly in Slovene, she landed a job with the Yugoslav section of the BBC, and was soon broadcasting back to where she had just come from. At the BBC, she met Anton, father of Diana Poberaj, who recounts this story of Lisa’s wartime years:
“One afternoon on a fire-training exercise, she was instructed to carry heavy pails of water. The Polish contingent at the BBC, by nature most gallant, rushed to her aid each time, as dignity would not allow them to leave a lady in such dire need. Finally a supercilious English voice barked out: ‘Gentlemen! For the purpose of this exercise, Miss Hirsch is NOT a lady!’”
Lisa converted to the Orthodox Church. In the 1950s she married Philip Houlton. She continued working for the BBC for many years and to this day remains in spirit the consummate journalist.
Lisa now lives in the seaside town of Porthcawl in Wales, near her son David and his wife Anne.
– Contributed by Diana Poberaj