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This site in Ukrainian A Short History of the
Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM)
in the United Kingdom

On the 60th Anniversary of its founding


The first CYM members appeared in Britain as early as 1947, arriving amongst the waves of Ukrainians from Germany and Austria, and immediately started to organise local branches (oseredky) and sections (lanky). They were soon joined by the recently released soldiers of the Ukrainian “Dyvizia”, as well as soldiers from other formations. By the start of 1948 there were active CYM cells in Bolton, Sleaford, Sibson, Full Sutton, Ely, Evanton, Holbeck and other locations.

The first meeting of the CYM Organising Bureau, initiated by Myroslav Shkavrytko, Ihnatiy Fedchyniak and Mykhailo Hryniuk, took place on 1 July 1948 in Tattershall in Lincolnshire. The Bureau included Myroslav Shkavrytko (President), Anna Kalynyk (Vice-President), Mykhailo Hryniuk (Secretary), Ihnatiy Fedchyniak (Treasurer) and members Vasyl’ Oles’kiv, Ya. Skurs’ky, M. Deba, H.Tsebriy, M. Yavors’ky, Halyna Mykushivna and Antin Tysyachny.

The first National CYM Congress (Zyizd) took place in the spring of 1949 and elected Myroslav Shkavrytko President of the National Committee (these were called “komitety” until 1958, when the VI World CYM Congress renamed them “upravy”). CYM’s Constitution was formally registered with the British authorities in 1950.


At the Second National Congress (in 1950) it was reported that by the end of 1949 there were already 2870 CYM members based in 82 branches. Based on the statistical information of the time, in one year alone a total of 782 meetings (skhodyny) of CYM members were held at section (lanka) level, 190 larger member meetings were held at branch (oseredok) level, there were 91 festive gatherings and 1121 events of a national/educational character, and some 356 public lectures and 994 talks were read out. At branch level there were 11 choirs, 15 dance ensembles, 5 drama groups, 9 self-help groups, 9 chess teams, 3 wood-carvers groups and one band.

1954: At summer camp...

Following the decommissioning of the POW and DP camps and the subsequent migration into the cities, the number of branches and sections fell off significantly, and by 1953 there were only 56 of them with a total membership numbering 2072. At the turn of the 50s and 60s the membership fell away for purely demographic reasons, as the first generation of CYM members moved on to set up their own families. A similar drop in membership occurred in the second half of the 1980s, due to the generation gap between the second and third generations.

CYM membership peaked in the 1960s and 1970s, as the second generation of CYMivtsi, born in Britain, grew up. The acquisition of a permanent site (oselya) at Tarasivka, near Derby, helped to further boost membership figures. By 1970 there were 3870 CYM members in the UK, a level the organisation more or less maintained for the next 5-6 years. After a drop in membership in the 1980s, the numbers once again picked up in the 1990s with the arrival of a third generation of CYMivtsi. There were 1010 members in 1993. The revival was also in part boosted by the celebrations in 1988 to mark the 1000th anniversary of Christianity in Ukraine, and the 1991 Ukrainian declaration of independence. In 2000 CYM in the UK had 1026 members who were grouped in 18 branches in 3 regions (okruhy). Today, in 2008, CYM in the UK has 872 members in 15 branches split between 2 regions.

1963: Yaroislav Statsko on a visit

Organisationally, CYM in the UK adheres to the decisions of the CYM World Congress and is divided into “sumeniata” (3-6 year olds), “molodshe yunatstvo” (7-12 year olds), “starshe yunatstvo” (13-17 year olds), “druzhynnyky” (from 18 years upwards) and “senyory”. The age range for “druzhynnyky” has changed several times: for a long time it was restricted to the 18-35 year olds, but as of 1996 it was extended to the 18-50 year olds.

Branch-level Activity

CYM’s core activities occur at branch (oseredok) level, where weekly youth meetings (skhodyny) are organised, and the work of local Ukrainian Saturday Schools is supplemented (or if such Schools didn’t exist in the local area, then CYM would often undertake such educational activity). This educational work culminates in annual examinations (ispyty) and the award of badges of merit. Many branches have continued this work right into the 21st century.

Almost every branch has at one time or another organised a local dance troupe, choir, orchestra, drama group, sports team etc, which have performed and continue to perform not only at Ukrainian but also British events. The height of achievement is to appear at one of CYM’s Regional or National Rallies (zdvyhy). The National CYM Rally, which now takes place in Tarasivka but between 1958-1993 took place in De Montfort Hall in Leicester – is the largest and longest-lived Ukrainian folk festival in the UK. Amongst the better known dance groups are “Krylati” (from Bradford), “Hoverlya” (Derby), “Veselka” (Coventry), “Podillya” (Manchester), “Chayka” (Carlisle), “Veselka” (Halifax), “Chayka” (Rochdale), “Sokoly” (Stockport), “Veselka” (Ashton) and others.

Branches which are still active today include – Ashton, Bolton, Bradford, Wolverhampton, Gloucester, Derby, Carlisle, Coventry, Leicester, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Rochdale, Stockport and Todmorden. Of those which were active for a time in the past, it is worth noting – Halifax, Huddersfield, Keighley, Reading, Slough, Peterborough, Oldham, High Wycombe, Stoke-on-Trent, Cannock, Leeds, Swindon, Bedford, Bury, Waltham Cross, Edinburgh, Rushden-Wellingborough, Dundee, Galashiels and others.


One of the biggest CYM achievements was the acquisition in 1964 of its own permanent site (oselya), which, to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Taras Shevchenko, was named Tarasivka. The National Committee (krayova uprava) was immediately relocated to Tarasivka, and the site became the permanent host of most CYM camps and sporting activities. With the completion of a large hall, dubbed “Khortytsya”, Tarasivka also started to host all national AGMs, bazaars and other CYM events, as well as events organised by other organisations, most notably the Association of Former Ukrainian Combatants. The Chapel of Saints Volodymyr and Olha was built in the ornate hutzul style to mark the 1000th anniversary of Christianity in Ukraine and was formally consecrated in 1990. As of 1993 all National CYM Rallies now take place in Tarasivka.

The National Committee

CYM’s governing body in the UK is elected by branch delegates every two years at the National AGM (Krayovy Zyizd): there was a time when elections took place every year. The President (holova) and the National Committee (Krayova Uprava) members coordinate the work of the branches and organise annual national events such as summer youth camps, the National AGM, national and regional youth rallies, inter-branch sports competitions and other events. Up until Ukraine’s declaration of independence in 1991, the National Committee was also prominent in organising frequent political protest-actions in support of the rights of Ukraine, for example picketing the Soviet Embassy in London, numerous petitions to the British government, symbolic hunger-strikes, etc. The National Committee sends out numerous Circulars every year to its branches, and until fairly recently also published its own newssheet “Holos Molodi” (see below). It also maintains its own web-site on .

1970: Cardinal Yosef Slipyj at Tarasivka

CYM’s headquarters were initially in 1950-60 located in the same building as that of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB), and then moved to Bradford in 1960-64. With the acquisition of Tarasivka near Derby in 1964, the headquarters have been located there to this day. For many years the National Committee had between 2-3 paid administrators, paid in part from CYM funds, but largely with the financial help of the AUGB. However, this came to an end in the early 1990s and since then all National Committee work is undertaken on a purely voluntary basis by National Committee members and others dispersed throughout the country.

Summer Camps

The organisation of children and youth camps is one of the most important of CYM activities. The first youth camps were held in the 1950s when CYM shifted its focus from young adults to school-age children. The first youth camps were held in 1954 at the AUGB’s War Invalid’s (now Residential) Home in Chiddingfold just outside London, since when, CYM has organised summer youth camps every year in the months of July and August.

The night before Ivana Kupala...

The camps have generally been of an educational and recreational character, and have included sports activities, dancing, singing, hikes, outdoor pursuits, presentations about Ukrainian history and culture, discussion groups about Ukrainian topics, etc. The camps have always been and continue to be split along age groups: a “younger” camp (7-12 year olds), an “older” camp “(13-17 year olds), a camp for druzhynnyky (for the 18+), and a camp fro “sumenyata” (3-6 year olds). During the 1960s, 1970s and even into the 1980s, the camps were held over a seven week long period. At their peak in 1970, well over a 1000 participants passed through the summer camps at Tarasivka.

The nationally organised camps initially took place in Chiddingfold, but after the acquisition of Tarasivka, moved there. 1959 saw the first youth camps in Scotland, and at the beginning of the 1960s there were additional youth camps being held in Thackley near Bradford. Occasionally camps would be organised at different times of the year, for example in December 1993 there was a Winter Camp for the “older” youth category in Tarasivka. In addition, several branches (most notably Bradford and London) have organised and continue to organise from time to time, their own mini-camps (often lasting just a couple of days over a long weekend) usually in either Chiddingfold or Tarasivka.

Sumivtsi from Britain have also taken part in large numbers in other CYM camps around the world, most notably in Western Europe, where until fairly recently there used to be a Winter Camp (for the 18+, later 16+) in Frankopole in Belgium, and in the European Sports Camps, which used to rotate between Belgium, the UK, Germany and France. In the 1990s some Sumivtsi started to take part in CYM camps in Ukraine (the first time in 1992) and in other countries where CYM is active (most notably the USA, Canada, Australia, and others).

1955: Group photo at camp


The National Committee (Komitet) started to publish its own newssheet “Holos Molodi” in December 1949, initially using cyclostyle duplicators, then as a printed illustrated magazine, and from 1959 – as a monthly insert to the “Ukrayins’ka Dumka” newspaper. It continued to appear in this format right up to 2005, when the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB) decided to relaunch “Ukrayins’ka Dumka” and do away with all inserts and additions (amongst them “Holos Molodi”) being supplied by other organisations.

CYM in the UK has also published several books of an educational character (for example the “Anthology of Ukrainian Poetry” in 1957), several series of Christmas and Easter cards, several postcards and other items. Many branches prepared their own notice-board newssheets and also published short-lived magazines such as “Vistnyk” in Derby, “Sumivtsi” in Coventry, “Slovo – nasha zbroya” (in Nottingham), “Tsvirkun” (The Cricket) in Bradford, “Druzhynnyk” in London and others. Every year sees the publication of “Yunatsky Klych” (The Call of Youth) made up of contributions from the children at the summer camps in Tarasivka: at its peak there would be 3-4 issues each summer, though this has now been reduced to one issue per summer.

The National Committee launched its own web-site at in 1997 and in 2003 published a large-format photo-album entitled “CYM in the UK – over 50 years of youth work”. That same year saw the appearance of the first branch website in Bradford, followed by Manchester the following year.

Community Activity

CYM members actively take part in Ukrainian community events throughout the UK. Given that there is usually a dancing group, choir or orchestra attached to every branch, there are very few concerts or public performances without the participation of one or other CYM group. Nearly all the heads and presidents of other community organisations in the UK, for example the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB), the Organisation of Ukrainian Women (OUZh), the Association of Ukrainian Teachers and Educators, Ukrainian Social Clubs – are all members of CYM or grew up in CYM.

1977: Queen Elizabeth

During the Cold War period, CYM organised annual demonstrations and protest-actions to draw British public attention to the political situation in Ukraine. Such activity included annual hunger strikes outside the Soviet Embassy in London on the anniversary of the battle at Kruty (29 January 1918), protest demonstrations during visits to the UK by Soviet dignitaries (for example against former KGB head Shelepin, during the concert tours of “Veryovka”), the mass posting of letters of support and Christmas cards to political prisoners in the USSR, etc. In 1968 CYMivtsi organised a so-called “Storming of the Soviet Embassy” following a new wave of political arrests in Ukraine. Such activity led to articles appearing in British newspapers in 1980 alleging that Tarasivka was a “spy centre” preparing people to sabotage the Olympic Games which were scheduled to take place that year in Moscow.

Following Ukraine’s declaration of independence in 1991, Sumivtsi were amongst the community delegations, who welcomed Ukrainian Presidents Leonid Krawchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko, when these undertook official visits to the UK. In 1993 Tarasivka was host to Ukraine’s first ambassador to the UK, prof Serhiy Komisarenko, and in 2003 the then President of CYM in the UK, Roman Panas, was personally awarded a Hramota “For services to the Ukrainian Nation” by Volodymyr Lytvyn, Head of Ukraine’s Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. At the tail end of 2004, Sumivtsi in the UK were active participants of the daily mass rallies taking place in London in support of the Orange Revolution, and then a group of them went to Ukraine as part of the international monitors during the repeat presidential elections held on 26 December 2004.

International Relations

CYM in the UK is part of the World CYM, which today is active in 10 countries around the world. Delegates from CYM in the UK have participated in all the CYM Congresses – the highest governing body of CYM, which takes place every five years – and have been members of the World (till 1996 Central) CYM Committee. CYM members from the UK have participated in several CYM Jamborees (Zlety), most notably those held in Los Angeles (1984), Rome and Istanbul (1988), Australia (1992-3), Atlanta (a996) and in Ukraine (2001 and 2006). In 1990 Sumivtsi from Great Britain took part in the World Druzhynnyk Conference held in Munich, when the first steps were taken to promote CYM in Ukraine. In 1992 CYM in the UK welcomed Ihor Derkach, the first President of the newly revived CYM in Ukraine.

As the biggest CYM territory in Europe, sumivtsi from the UK were often key players in regular and successful European Sports Camps (held in rotation in Belgium, Britain, Germany and France), the European Winter Camps (held in Belgium), the European Conference of National CYM Committees, and other European events (for example the frequent commemorations of the deaths of Symon Petliura in Paris, Yevhen Konovaletz in Rotterdam, and Stepan Bandera in Munich), or protest-actions (for example ABN in Madrid in 1980 and EFC in London in 1982) and other similar events. In 1998 CYM in the UK celebrated its 50th anniversary with a grand concert (in Tarasivka), a Youth Zabava (in Tarasivka) and a Grand Banquet & Ball (in Manchester), which included CYM representatives from the USA, Ukraine, Germany, Belgium and representatives from other organisations.

2000: At Tarasivka

CYM Presidents in the United Kingdom
1949–50  Myroslav Shkavrytko
1950-55   Yaroslav Deremenda
1955-57   Ivan Krushel’nyts’ky
1957-59   Petro Lenkivs’ky
1959-75   Yaroslav Deremenda
1975-77   Bohdan Harhaj
1977-79   Yaroslav Deremenda
1979-83   Yaroslav Rutkovs’ky
1983-90   Wolodymyr Szlachetko
1990-94   Yaroslav Semehen
1994-96   Wolodymyr Szlachetko
1996-04   Roman Panas
2004-today   Bohdan Prykhidny

Timeline: main events and achievements
1948Founding of the CYM Organising Bureau in Tattershall
1949First National CYM Congress (Zyizd) and the election of the first National Committee headed by M.R.Shkavrytko. Publication of Issue 1 of “Holos Molodi”
1950CYM Constitution registered with British authorities. The National’ Committee moves its HQ to the AUGB building in London. Yaroslav Deremenda becomes President of CYM
1954First CYM youth camps held in Chiddingfold
1958The National “Komitet” is renamed National “Uprava”. The National CYM Rally (zdvyh) takes place in Leicester for the first time. The first youth exams held and badges of merit awarded in Coventry.
1959First youth camps organised in Scotland
1960CYM HQ moved to the AUGB building in Bradford. Youth camps held in Thackley near Bradford
1964Acquisition of “Tarasivka” near Derby. CYM HQ moved to Tarasivka
1968“Storming of the Soviet Embassy”: CYM protest demonstration held outside the Soviet embassy in London following a new wave of political repression in Ukraine
1970More than 1000 participants at CYM summer camps in Tarasivka
1975Grand opening of “Khortytsya” Hall in Tarasivka
1988British sumivtsi take part in the IV World CYM Jamboree (Zlet) in Rome and Istanbul to mark the 1000th anniversary of Christianity in Ukraine
1990British sumivtsi take part in the World Druzhynnyk Conference in Munich. Consecration of new chapel in Tarasivka
1991Ukraine declares independence
1992British sumivtsi take part in a CYM camp in Ukraine for the first time. Ihor Derkach, the first President of CYM in Ukraine, visits the UK
1993National CYM Rally (zdvyh) moved to Tarasivka
1997CYM UK launches its own web-site at
1998Grand celebration of 50th anniversary of CYM in the UK
2001British sumivtsi participate in the VI World CYM Jamboree (Zlet) in Ukraine to mark the 10th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence
2003Publication of “CYM in Great Britain: more than 50 years of youth work”
2004British sumivtsi – international observers at Ukraine’s repeat presidential elections following the “Orange Revolution”. Sumivtsi actively take part in mass rallies held in London in support of the “Orange Revolution”

- edited by Roman Panas (Manchester)  

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