Friday, 30 September 2011


The Arabska Gymnasium in Prague 6 has been an annual visitor to Bridgwater since the link first started back in 1996 when Dr Jan Soucek met Mr Andrew Pole in the Bridgwater Embassy in Prague (the 'U Capa' bar near IP Pavlova). Last year was the Doctors final visit as he has now retired, however the link goes on and this year Mrs Pavla Pracnova turned up with a group of 16 students eager to see what all the fuss was about.

Picking the right time to come - not only was it Bridgwater fair, but the English Summer finally decided to arrive, the group also included on their itnerary a visit to the College where Media lecturer Mino De Francesca showed them several films made by the students, the YMCA where Jason let them have a go at Archery and even a game of Skittles was thrown into the cultural melting pot.

The students were toured around the county, climbing Glastonbury Tor, playing Cricket on the parklands of Burnham and involving themselves in the ancient history of the region from atop Burrow Mump.

They also had a drive down to Devon and Cornwall where they misjudged the tides at the St Michaels Mount causeway, fell off a cliff at Tintagel and were eaten by Dartmoor ponies just south of Okehampton.


A successful link between communities in our two twin towns has been given a boost for the second year running with money from the European Social fund. Last year Dagmar Mega, from the Akropolis family centre in Uherske Hradiste arranged funding for Family centre workers in UH to come across to seehow things were done in Bridgwater. As a result of that first visit links were made with the Hamp Community Association and a second trip, funded by the European Social fund, was organised to further those links.

In September 2011 Dagmar brought across a further 10 Family centre and Youth club workers to Bridgwater and we organised a series of visits to similar family centres in our district.

The bulk of the programme was organised in conjunction with Les Riddle at the Re-Creation centre in Hamp whose volunteers prepared many of the meals for the group, and who involved them in community activities such as 'Community Computing' ,'Zumba', and even a 'Knit and Natter' session.

The Project generated some £500 for the Hamp Community Association and as a result of the programme and Hamps new link up with the YMCA a 3 -year Euro project has now been signed up to for 2012.


In 1991, when the Bridgwater-Czech Slovak Friendship Society was founded by Antonin Machala and Brian Smedley, the Mayor of Bridgwater was Ken Richards. The following year when Bridgwater formally became the first British town to twin with a Czech/Slovak town (Uherske Hradiste) the Mayor was David Baker. Every year we change the Mayor in Bridgwater and several of our Mayors have made it across to our Moravian twin town. In September 2011 it was Cllr Pat Parker.

Accompanied by his Mayoress, Jennie Parker, along with a small delegation of the Secretary (Cllr Brian Smedley) and the Town C
ouncil rep on the Czech Friendship society (Cllr Mick Lerry) , Pat marched the entire 2 mile length of the Uherske Hradiste wine festival procession route, cheered on his way by wellwishers and alongside delegations from Italy, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia .

Carrying the flag for the duration of the procession was Bridgwater International's admin assistant Jana Branecka and alongside the Mayor throughout was translator Adela Tobolova.

The group also spent some time in Prague where some 20 Friendship Society supporters from the Czech capital joined them for an evening out and made plans for next years programme.

Whilst in Uherske Hradiste, Czech Society co-found
er Antonin Machala took the Mayor , Mayoress and Cllr Lerry up for a spin in his private aeroplane to give them an aerial view of the Festivities below.

Cllr Smedley said "During the past 20 years of our very active link, we have taken 4 incumbant Mayors across to UH a
nd they've sent 2 back to Bridgwater. The Civic link is very important , however, more important is the work done by the many active supporters we have who organise, run and fund the trips. Doing the hard work which is often unrewarded , the home hosting, the budgetting,and the promotion of our towns within each other's communities. Although not 'councillors' or 'elected dignatories' the two most important people in our link with Uherske Hradiste for the past 15-20 years are without doubt Antonin Machala and Jana Hubena. It was a shame that they weren't invited to participate in this particular event by the UH Council."

Friday, 2 September 2011


A couple of years back, a Bridgwater delegation to the Uherske Hradiste wine festival (the next one is 9-11 September) bumped into a delegation from our Czech town's twin town, 'Priverno' just south of Rome. From that time to this we've been developing new partners for our International friendship links.

Last year we took our football team over to Priverno along with a team from Uherske Hradiste and played a couple of matches while getting to know the place.

This October we are taking the Voice of the People Choir from the Bridgwater Arts Centre over there on a singing tour.

Next February plans are afoot to take Bridgwater college Film & Media students on a fact finding trip plus Health care students from Richard Huish in March.

Priverno is a small rural community 40 minutes south of Rome and very close to the beachresort of Sabaudia - interestingly created as a 'Fascist new Town' in the 20's when Mussolini drained the pontine Marches and within easy reach of the world war 2 battlefield of Cassino and Anzio.

Our most recent Italian escapade was a visit to Bridgwater by 3 Italian girls from Cerignola who did voluntary work at the YMCA and were given English lessons by our Czech admin assistant Jana Branecka...and thus the cycle is complete.