Bridgwater Town Twinning Forum

 

Bridgwater has 5 twin towns.La Ciotat (France) Homberg (Germany) Uherske Hradiste (Czech Republic) Marsa (Malta) and Priverno (Italy).  In 2014 Bridgwater Town Council set up a ‘Twinning Forum’ for the town where all the existing partners could meet and work together.

The Town Council grant aids each twinning group with £300 annually with each twinning  run through it’s own  twinning committee and funds an annual 'Conference'.

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La Ciotat (France) 1957

The La Ciotat twinning is Bridgwater’s oldest twinning dating back to the Borough days of the 1950’s. Over the years many youth exchanges formed the backbone of the link but in recent years support has dropped and activists have ‘aged’ leaving a vacuum .
In 2013 the remaining members of the la Ciotat link  society asked Bridgwater International to take over the running of the link which it did for 4 years rebuilding a link programme including football, choir visits and student links. 
In 2017 the Bridgwater-La Ciotat Link Society re-established itself in its own right and the  new Contact is Hayley Giles (hayleylouise36@hotmail.co.uk)  . 

 

Homberg (Germany) 1992


The Homberg twinning was conceived as part of the Sedgemoor -Schwalm Eder District twinning (SEK) (1979)  along with Fritzlar (Burnham) and Felsberg (Cheddar).The Homberg link is a  self sufficient and self contained group within the SEK network . Secretary is Ros Holman. thethreeholmans@hotmail.com


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Uherske Hradiste (Czech Republic) 1992

Bridgwater was the first British town to twin with a Czech town after the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and the Bridgwater Czech Slovak Friendship Society is recognised as the most active Anglo-Czech twinning link in both countries. The twinning was signed on June 18th 1992 

Throughout the 1990’s the link received considerable EU funding as it dealt with an accession state and consequently when Czechoslovakia divided, with 2 accession states thus attracting 3 way partnership funding. This funding resulted in up to 500 people a year travelling between the countries for over a decade.

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The Bridgwater Czech-Slovak Friendship Society is run by a committee which consists currently of Chairman (Tim Mander) Vice chair (Nigel Carter) Secretary (Brian Smedley) Treasurer (Simon Hann) along with outside reps from Town (Mick Lerry) and District (Steve Austen).

In 2000 the workload and turnover became so large that Bridgwater International was set up as a separate business in order to generate funding and to run an ever widening International programme which includes Poland, Hungary,Lithuania, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Italy and France.

Bridgwater International operates through a network of key agents in a series of partnership towns around Europe and organises some 30+ projects a year.The internationalist programme includes a considerable input from various departments of Bridgwater College, along with community groups , choirs, sports teams etc around the county, and is monitored by regular meetings of the Bridgwater Czech/Slovak Friendship society committee. Many of the exchange programmes are EU funded, specifically via the Erasmus and Leonardo schemes.

Contact is Brian Smedley  bridgwaterinternational@gmail.com 

Bridgwater International maintains a web site which incorporates the Czech/Slovak programme within a broader Internationalist perspective. www.bridgwaterinternational.co.uk

 

Marsa (Malta) 2006

The Malta twinning was set up in 2004 by Steve Gill whose wife is Maltese and who put an advert in the Mercury suggesting a Maltese link to be formed. The twinning agreement was signed in April 2006 by Town Mayor Bill Monteith and the first official visit to Malta was in October 2006 by the, then Town Mayor Pat Parker. This was preceded by  earlier semi-official visits by a civic party to Bridgwater by the Marsa Council in 2004 and a reciprocal visit by twinning members to Malta in 2005.

Since then there have been several formal and informal visits by Bridgwater and Marsa delegates to their respective twinned towns. The last trip to Malta was fronted by Town Mayor Alex Glassford in 2016 when he and his accompanying party celebrated the 10th anniversary of the association with the Marsa council members, organisation representatives and friends. A similar event was held in Bridgwater in May 2016 when Marsa Councillor Dominic Spencer and his family visited this town to commemorate this occasion and participated in the town's Twinning Conference programme.



The twinning is run by the BRIDGWATER/MARSA TWINNING ASSOCIATION. Officers of the Association as follows: President-the current Mayor of Bridgwater (presently Graham Granter), Honorary Vice Presidents-Dr Joseph Muscat Prime Minister of Malta and Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger MP. Chair-Mike Grabner, Secretary-Pat Morgan, Treasurer-Barbara Taylor, Membership Secretary-Tricia Brown.

Meetings are normally held bi-monthly at the Mayor's Parlour. Their projects are very traditional twinning exchanges between key members and include a civic element. They also have a strong Scout content and are constantly striving to establish links with other local organisations to further the twinning ethos. They hold occasional social events and post extensive reports of their activities on their web site along with detailed meeting minutes and photos. Their on-going aim and purpose is to maintain the close relationship with their Maltese friends and partners and work with other town twinning groups.

Contact is Pat Morgan: patjanemorgan@aol.com
 

Priverno (Italy) 2015

On February 26th 2015 Bridgwater signed up it's 5th twinning partner. The town of Priverno is in the province of Latina and the Region of Lazio just south of Rome. Links have been going on for some 4 years already as the twinning was based on the town also being the twin town of Uherske Hradiste.

Priverno is a small hilltop top in the foothills of the Apenines and between it and the coast stretches the former Pontine Marshes, flat, reclaimed from the sea and drained similarly to Sedgemoor. A 20 minute drive from Priverno is the seaside town of Sabaudia and the regional capital of Latina. Rome is a mere 6€ train journey away.

Links so far with Priverno have included a football tour, 2 choir visits, 2 visits from Bridgwater college and we now have a growing group of twinners in each town who keep in regualr contact. We recently formalised links with the Teodosio Rossi school in Priverno and Bridgwater College who we are seeking to develop Erasmus projects with in the future.

Contact for the Priverno link is Hilary Bruce hbruce@hbtranslations.it

OTHER INTERNATIONAL LINKS Whilst the Town does have numerous links around the world ,for instance there are 13 ‘Bridgewaters’ in the USA which all have some historical connection to Somerset, there are also recent business links with China pursued through the Chamber of Commerce. Beyond this the schools and colleges have numerous links , as do organisations such as Rotary, Arts Organisations and Trades Unions amongst others.
Bridgwater also has an official/unofficial/impractical link with the city of Seattle,USA based on a shared interest in punk superstar Joe Strummer.

These links were endorsed and are supported where possible but it should recognised that they would be impossible to finance by the Town Council .

Through the work of Bridgwater International projects have been set up with  some civic support  in Sarvar (Hungary). Ongoing educational and cultural links now already exist as a result with an extensive programme planned for the future.

RECOMMENDATIONS PASSED BY TOWN COUNCIL 2014

Considering the wealth of twinning and international link activities in the town these should be supported, publicised and enhanced.

  1. a Town Twinning Forum should be established  comprising delegates from each of the existing and proposed twinnings to share experience and publicise activities. This should meet 3 times a year with the council providing meeting space. .

  2. An Annual Open Day event where the public could hear presentations on  past activities and future plans. This should be organised by the Town Twinning Forum.

  3. That the Bridgwater Czech-Slovak Friendship Society, the Bridgwater Homberg Link society and the Bridgwater Marsa Twinning Association  be supported with annual grant aid and by the ongoing civic support of the Mayor.

  4. That the council recognises the La Ciotat Society’s wish that it’s programme be hitherto organised by Bridgwater International and that the annual grant be allocated to that organisation for specific projects relating to the French town.

  5. That Bridgwater International be asked to develop Priverno and Sarvar into full twinnings and the appropriate annual twinning budget allocated but ringfenced specifically for those 2 ongoing  projects.

     

    BRIDGWATER TOWN TWINNING CONFERENCES

    On Saturday 7th March 2015 we held the first of a series of  open days  where people could drop in to find out more about the Town’s twinnings, what they do and how they can get involved.

     A full report is available here; 



 
We have also set up a Facebook group;-  Bridgwater Town Twinning Forum
 




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