BORDERS’ MSP Christine Grahame has been awarded Poland’s Pro Patria Medal by the Polish Consulate, having been nominated for it by the Mapa Trust who manage the Great Polish Map of Scotland at Eddleston.
Ms Grahame has been involved with the Mapa Trust for a number of years and has been supportive in its work to restore and promote the Map, which is a large three-dimensional, outdoor concrete scale model of Scotland, located in the grounds of the Barony Castle Hotel.
The Map was the idea of Polish war veteran Jan Tomasik who owned the Hotel at the time, being built between 1974 and 1979. It was mainly the work of a small group of Poles from the Jagiellonian University of Krakow, Poland, led by the map’s main designer, Dr. Kazimierz Trafas. They were assisted by staff from the Hotel and Polish exchange students visiting Britain.
Whilst the exact reason for the map being built is unclear, some have suggested Tomasik’s friend, General Stanisław Maczek, was involved. Tomasik is known to have said that the map was to be his legacy, describing it as “a gift to the Scottish people” for the hospitality the Scots had shown the Poles during the war years.
The Pro Patria Medal is a civil state decoration of Poland, established in 2011, and awarded by the Head of the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression.
Ms Grahame was presented with the medal by the Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh, Mr Łukasz Lutostański, at an event earlier this month at Edinburgh City Chambers to mark Polish National Day.
Ms Grahame, SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, said: “I am incredibly honoured to be awarded this medal. I became aware of the then remains of The Great Polish Map of Scotland soon after my election in 1999 and over the years I supported through Parliament as best I could the rebuilding of the map by volunteers which took a huge commitment by them for over a decade.
“The Map is a very tangible demonstration of the long established links between Scotland and Poland, which go back to at least the 16th century, with well established Scots-Polish communities a key part of our country. These links have came to the fore again this year as support and aid is sent from Scotland to those in Poland who are providing sanctuary to those fleeing the awful events in Ukraine.
“Today it is estimated there are over 100,000 Polish people or people of Polish descent living in Scotland. My best wishes to all of you and you should be so proud of Poland today. Dziękuję.”