The Wolsztyn Experience welcomes Ukrainian Refugees
Howard Jones and his wife Ola who run The Wolsztyn Experience steam loco footplate courses in Poland have taken in a Ukrainian family in the house used for course participants.
Howard and Ola have also rented a large house and placed four more Ukrainian families in it, this has all become possible by the generosity of those that have been on steam footplate courses in Wolsztyn. So far £23,000 has been donated and Howard is looking into the possibility of renting further houses.
The families so far consist of 16 Ukrainians, made up of Grandmothers, Mothers and children, a baby and a small dog all who will all need our support for several months so we are doing everything possible to make sure that we have funds will cover their needs.
They arrived with nothing only the clothes they travelled in so Ola has been shopping for food, clothes, and toys for the children and medical essentials to supply to the families.
The photograph to the right shows Ukrainian children Krystyna and Maxim given their first introduction to a steam locomotive by Howard Jones and Polish driver Andrzej
Latest news from Wolsztyn
Following on from renting accommodation for Ukrainian families we have been entertaining these shell shocked families in an effort to replace in their memories the horrible experiences they have suffered with new happy memories. The biggest events were staged over Easter when approx. 300 Ukrainians were taken to Stefanowo for a barbeque with a bouncy castle, child entertainers including face painting for the children.
The 300 were split into two groups, one departing on a special steam to Stefanowo whilst the other half were shown around the depot at Wolsztyn, where a bouncy castle had been set up and group pictures were taken. On arrival of the first group at Stefanowo the children were entertained and a barbeque was provided. The second group after their visit to the depot were transported by coach to Stefanowo, where upon the first group boarded the coaches back to Wolsztyn to enjoy the entertainment set up there. The second group after their barbeque returned on the waiting steam train to Wolsztyn. Future trips are planned including a visit to the Zoo in Poznan.
In the meanwhile we have been funding medical packs and generators and shipping them to the Ukraine. We would like to thank all of you that have generously supported us in our efforts to help Ukraine and their people. Recently our first Americans on footplate courses this year arrived In Wolsztyn; Stan Aimes and Doug Blain brought funds from the USA, topping up contributions to the £50,000 mark of which approximately half as been spent so far.
A selfie of Ola and the visiting Americans Stan Aimes and Doug Blain with the Ol loco in the background at Wolsztyn. Credit - Ola Sikucinska.
The castle alongside the depot offices at Wolsztyn. Credit - Ola Sikucinska.
An aerial view of the scene at Stefanowo where a Tkt tank engine has been plinthed as part of a small railway museum housed in the station. These great drone shots can easily be obtained in Poland where flying regulations are far less restrictive. Credit - Arthur Wieczorek
The scene at Stefanowo, in the background the plinthed Tkt tank engine and Ol49-69.
Credit - Ola Sikucinska.
A group pix of a number of the Ukrainians and Polish guides in front of Ol49-69 at Wolsztyn. Credit - Ola Sikucinska.
An aerial view of Tuchorza showing Ol49-69 returning with the Ukrainian special from Stefanowo. Credit - Arthur Wieczorek
All donations gratefully received to help these poor people
The Polish government have given the Ukrainians free rail travel and several shops in Wolsztyn are supplying goods at cost.
The Wolsztyn Experience has set up a separate bank account to manage the fund donations which can be made by bank transfer to
The Wolsztyn Experience Ukraine Support -
Barclays Bank - Sort Code 20-40-71 - Account Number 40020044.
International via Swift BUKBGB22. IBAN GB44 BUKB 20407140020044.
Safe at last!
4 members of a Ukrainian family of 5 in one of the rooms in the Wolsztyn Experience Guest House. Grandmother, Mum, Baby and Young Boy
A few words from Ola Sikucinska - Howard’s wife.
The situation is tragic, we try our best but still not enough. Lots of mother and children and elderly people crossing the border waiting in long hours queue and they don’t have anybody here, they don’t know language, they feel lost, and they just left behind their husbands, fathers, sons in the war zone.
I’m so sad, I’m crying during the day without the reason. The whole world watches the news and they are sorry for the Ukrainian, but at the same time people are dying. One mad man scared the whole world!?!?!? This shouldn’t happen in XXI century. History and future generations will judge us!!! I’m sorry for that. This is just very personal to me, because I lost both my grandfathers in the WWII and my parents survived the war, but I know what they went through, so with whole my heart I’m with the Ukrainian people.
So far we have our 4 families set up in their new house. It wasn’t easy task, because the house was for sale and we had to do repairs, like plumbing, electricity, painting and re furnish, new washing machine, mags, pots, cutlery etc. Maybe this sound easy when you’re reading about, but when you have to run around and organize every little details, and in mean time people still calling you to ask for help it’s really exhausting. I’m very tired, is like two weeks out of my life, but we still keep going. The reword is to see smiling faces and the kids running to you giving you a hug and kiss every day when they see you.
Happy smiles and a cuddle for Krystina from Ola on the beach at Boskowo.
Because The Wolsztyn Experience Tourist house had to be back and prepared for our own guests, we try to help other incisives financially, like there are 30 people in Rudno ( small village on the lake), staying in one big sport hall, so we going to pay for the expenses, bills etc and similar initiatives where they need support.To cut the long story short anybody who comes to us and need financial support after of course checking the situation and receiving the bills we helping.
Parowozownia Wolsztyn celebrates 250,000 Km of steam services.
The Parowozownia Wolsztyn formally took over from PKP the locomotive depot at Wolsztyn in 2016 as an independent operation. Since then it has been funded by Regional Government, Wolsztyn Town hall the Chamber of commerce and PKP Cargo.
The scheduled services under their management commenced in May 2017 and have now clocked up a ¼ of a million Km of stream haulage.
On March 15 th a small ceremony was held at Nowa Wies Mochy and a tape cut in front of the 1141 ex Wolsztyn train to Leszno by Janusz Frąckowiak - the local Major and Wojciech Marszałkiewicz – Director of Parowozownia Wolsztyn. A group of local school children welcomed the train and travelled on it to the next station and in doing so crossed the 250,000 km mark.
Funding given to Parowozownia Wolsztyn from the Wolsztyn Experience has subsidised the steam services to the tune of 2.6 zl per km and that being despite two years of COVID when course participant numbers have been down, despite a running full operational service. Since May of 2017 approx 500 people from 16 countries have sampled the unique footplate courses. In addition to the scheduled services several thousand of km of specials trains were run from 2016 until COVID stopped these operations.