Man hopes to fulfil friend’s dying wish, by flying his body back to Poland

Steven Harley, right, with Jarek Czarnecki. Mr Harley is fundraising to send his friend’s body home

Steven Harley, right, with Jarek Czarnecki. Mr Harley is fundraising to send his friend’s body home to Poland. Picture: Steven Harley - Credit: Archant

The flatmate of a man who died is determined to fulfil his friend’s wish to be buried alongside his parents in Poland.

Steven Harley said he promised a dying Jaroslaw Czarnecki, known as Jarek, he would do all he could to make sure his body was flown home, after he said he did not want to be cremated.

Mr Czarnecki, who lived with Mr Harley and his partner in Thetford, was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer in March.

The carpenter, who had previously worked at Omar Park & Leisure Homes in Brandon, died at the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, on August 21. Mr Harley was by his side.

Describing the 52-year-old as a simple and private man, Mr Harley said: “We created quite a bond and he was my Polish father and I was his English son.

“He always worked hard and he was a really a friendly giant who would help anyone. He found pleasure in building and making things and he was just a nice man.”

Mr Czarnecki and Mr Harley had lived together for three years and with Mr Czarnecki not wanting to go into a hospice and not having any family in England, Mr Harley looked after him at their home.

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“We created quite a close bond and I helped him through the best I could,” said the 35-year-old painter and decorator. “He did not want to be in a hospice.

“He fought the best he could but eventually the disease took over him.”

He added: “We started planning for him and his last wishes. He wanted to be buried with him mum and dad and I said to him, ‘I promise you I will try and make that wish come true’.”

After discussing how to help raise funds to transport Mr Czarnecki’s body back to Poland, Mr Harley and his friends came up with the idea of a fundraising page.

The amount they need to raise is £3,200 and with more than £2,000 already donated, Mr Harley has praised people’s generosity.

“The response has been fantastic,” he said. “It is amazing really. I can imagine Jarek looking down and feeling very proud of what we are doing and of everybody.”

Collection pots have also been placed in the Polish shops around town.

To help get Mr Czarnecki to Poland, you can donate by visiting the fundraising page.