A New Start: a post war escape led to a new life in Nelson

Before the 2nd World War, my father, Zdeněk Kabrna (Kab), who was born in Olomouc (Moravia), lived at Cafe Baroch on Wenceslas Square (Václavske Námesti) with his father Joseph and mother Maria.  He had been adopted into the family.  In 1948 Kab then aged 24 left Prague - he had too for his own safety.  Not knowing what lay ahead, circumstances conspired to bring him to the UK where he eventually settled in the Nelson area, (Brierfield) Lancashire.  Like many displaced citizens, Kab arrived in Harwich dressed only in plimsolls and USA battledress. English language was not understood and to make matters worse it was 'as usual' raining and foggy!

Kab eventually settled in NE Lancashire and worked in Textiles.  On becoming settled he was able to re-launch his table tennis career which had been curtailed by the 2nd World War.  Table Tennis was a top sport pre-war, especially as Czechoslovakia could boast the current world champion in Bohumil Vána.  Kab formed a strong friendship with Ivan Andreadis, his table tennis doubles partner and rival for the Czech Junior Championship.

In Nelson, Kab dominated the local table tennis scene and took part in many titanic battles with Roy Pickles.  Between them and with support from Charlie Polyak, Eric Johnstone and Ronnie Carradice later on, the town team gained promotion to the top County league which ensured that little Nelson could host the mighty teams of Manchester, Bolton and teams from Cheshire.