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Jobs from the Reach files - 25

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In this regular series Olive Braman tells how volunteers can use their skills and expertise through REACH, the charity that places professional and business people in part time voluntary jobs

You can find all the Jobs From the REACH Files articles from the Volunteering Index

Stefan Kuszell, war hero, architect and volunteer

Stefan Kuszell from Kew has, at 83, just retired from the voluntary work he has been doing since his official retirement ten years ago. Stefan’s youth was eventful and dangerous. He was born in Kiev but grew up in Warsaw. In 1939, aged 20, he joined the Polish infantry and from then on, for three years, was almost constantly on the run. He escaped en route to Mulhousen prisoner of war camp, was interned in Switzerland, then imprisoned after attempting to flee through Italy. He next escaped into France and then came to England via Spain and Gibraltar, after having been imprisoned at Miranda del Ebro.

Although Stefan’s later career as an architect lay in creating buildings, he also spent time in his youth destroying them. During the war he was a bomb-aimer with the RAF as a member of 300 Bomber Squadron and went on many missions to Germany. He was awarded the Cross of Valour with bar for his service. In 1945 he was awarded the Virtututi-Militari as well as English, Polish and French medals.

After the war, Stefan designed hospitals, sports facilities, theatres and universities as well as houses and offices during his career as an architect. On retirement he wanted to keep busy, so he signed on with REACH, the charity which finds voluntary work for professional people that will make the best use of their skills.

Stefan’s expertise came into use when he worked as a volunteer giving help and advice to the Building Conservation in the splendid surroundings of Hampton Court Palace. He also helped at the Volunteer Centre UK where his fluency in Polish and French, as well as his knowledge of German, Italian, Spanish and Greek, was invaluable, and at the Sue Ryder Foundation, Mission Lambeth and Abbeyfield Kensington.

Before training as an architect he was employed as an instructor teaching English to Poles where he met and married his wife, Teresa, who is also Polish. They have been married for over 50 years and have lived in the same house in Kew for nearly 45 years.

Now, Stefan is finally retiring in order to look after Teresa. He looks back on his years of volunteering with pride.  “I was happy to do any job in which I could make use of my qualifications and skills, especially my knowledge of languages and my extensive travel in Europe. I just like to be busy.”      

For further information about REACH please telephone 020 7582 6543 website

Look out for future features from Olive Braman on Jobs From The REACH Files or view all the REACH Files Articles from our Volunteering Index

laterlife interest

The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

It includes both one off articles and also regular columns of a more specialist nature such as healthwisereports from the REACH files, and a beauty section called looking good in later life.

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