1934 – 2008
It was with deep sadness that we learnt of the falling asleep of Nikolai on Sunday March 9th. It was only on the previous Thursday that he had attended the Meeting of the Trustees of the parish. As a Trustee he had given unstintingly of his time, particularly giving advice on any necessary repairs and being concerned with the general upkeep of his much loved church at Carlton. He had been much involved in the property since the time the parish had made the brave move into its own premises from St Mary’s, the Parish Church of Nottingham.
Alongside all his other commitments it was the enabling of the tragic young victims of the Chernobyl radiation accident [which spread its tentacles as far west as Wales] to have a holiday and be cared for, annually, by many host families in the Nottingham area. The children came from that part of Russia most dear to his heart and he gave them his unreserved love, attention and organising abilities.
If there was a task to be accomplished one could rely absolutely on it being completed but also as his grand-daughter, Nichole said in her talk, “ … he was always funny, kind and loving and always around when I needed him especially when I was in hospital, I opened my eyes and saw him and knew everything was going to be alright…”
Nikolai was born on the family farm in a village close to Vitibsk, Northern Belarus, on January 4th , 1934. Vitibsk is at the apex of an approximate 100 mile triangle with Minsk to the west and Smolensk to the east.
As his son, Nikolai said in his eulogy at the funeral service: ‘My father was a Byelorussian first and foremost, he was so proud of his heritage and his country … Many of you are aware that the Selesniov family arrived in England as refugees after the Second World War, They spoke only Russian and had few belongings to bring with them, the farm and land having been confiscated by the Soviet Government. He never thought he would ever return to his beloved Motherland. However, he did manage to visit several times and I was actually able to visit the area where his farm had once stood. He said to me, “This is where it all started son, this is where your roots are – always be proud of where you come from”. [So] … here we are today remembering my father, please rejoice in that you knew him, that you were part of his life, that you ate and drank at his table, shared long nights talking politics, drinking Vodka and experienced his kindness and friendship…’
Leaving the family behind in 1947, Nikolai’s father had to come to England to find a job and a home before he could send for the family. This he did, finding work on a farm that had a stone cottage included in the deal. So the family moved in to Halam near Southwell. And it was here, for the length of the five year contract, that the children went to school, learnt English, and prepared themselves for their new life.
Further Education was ruled out by the need to save up for their own home at the end of the five years. This being achieved, they moved to Colwick Road, Nottingham. Nikolai qualified as an engineer and worked on the Ratcliffe -on -Soar Power Station.
The places to go in the 1950’s were the Palais de Dance, the Astoria and the Victoria, All had resident ‘big bands’, but it was to the Palais that the Irish Kathleen Coyle and friends would gravitate and it was here that she was ‘spotted’ by the tall White Russian and, being persistent, he won the lady and the Sellers family proceeded to make its mark over fifty years.
Nikolai leaves behind a family which is close- knit and supportive of each other. Our Community remembers them in its heart and prays for their comfort and fortitude.