In 2015 Bridgwater held it’s first Town Council sponsored Twinning Confernece at the Bridgwater Arts Centre. All 6 twinning groups in the town took part and guests came from Czech Republic, France, Italy, Hungary and Malta. In all 14 x Twinning delegates took part in the Conference.
- The Maltese delegation ;- Cllr Dominic Spencer + Claudette Spencer
- The Italian delegation – Maria Capobianca, Damiano Pellegrini, Luca Ranucci, Mario Russo (Marilunari folk band )+ Carla Contini (Priverno school teacher)
- The Hungarian delegation Beata Kovacs (teacher) and Karina Kraszni (student)
- The Czech delegate Antonin Machala (Altech sro)
- The French delegation Mireille Benedetti : Deputy Mayor, Marie-Pierre Leonardelli: Chair of La Ciotat Twinning Committee, Magalie Ambrosi: secretary for Twinning, European and International Department Nathalie McAndrew: Twinning Committee elected member
The project was co-ordinated by Brian Smedley through Bridgwater International whicharranged directly the 4 Twinnings within their remit (Czech, Italy, Hungary, France) along with shared elements of the programme and held a single non-profit budget.
2 Maltese guests stayed in Bridgwater by arrangement with the Maltese group throughout the week. Their expenses were contained and controlled within that Twinning groups account apart from elements of shared programme at the weekend which were covered by the Bridgwater International project account.
There were no International guests from the German group.
Thursday 5th March
Brian hired a minibus for 5 days to cover movement of all conference guests and band £280 hire charge + Fuel £113.05 .He collected 5 Italians from Gatwick at 1230 and 2 Hungarians from Gatwick Airport at 1730.The 4 Italians (Marilunari) flight cost £303.75-paid for from the project . Carla Contini paid her own flight
The 2 Hungarians flights were paid for by the Hungary group £189.30
The Hungarians were taken to Taunton to stay FOC with Ian Tucker.
The 4 band members of Marilunari were taken to Bridgwater to stay with Martin Grixoni (1 Castle st) This cost £150. Martin vacated his house for the duration. Bridgwater international provided food materials which over the week came to £47.76
Carla Contini the Italian teacher stayed at Huntstile Farm This cost £140 and included bed and breakfast + meal on arrival (£8)
2200 Antonin Machala (Czech) and Magalie Ambrosi, Nathalie McAndrew,Marie Pierre Leonardelli, Mireille Benedetti (France) arrived by plane and were collected from Bristol Airport by minibus. All paid their own flights.
Accommodation was arranged for all at Huntstile farm paid for by the project Czech £140 French £480 Bed and Breakfast
Friday 6 March
All delegates met at Sedgemoor car park for a guided tour of the town centre by Brian + a visit to the street market and to the carnival centre.
The main feature of the morning was a visit to Bridgwater College where they met John Harding co-ordinator of the Erasmus projects who was keen to work with everyone. They had a tour of the college arranged by Mino DiFrancesca (Media). Mino also organised a lunch time concert for Marilunari and recorded it. Mino also arranged the loan of a Cajon drum for the duration of the tour FOC. It was hoped that lunch would be provided by the college but we had to pay ourselves and so £40 was paid by Bridgwater international to cover delegates food.
During the afternoon the minibus toured Somerset including Wells and Cheddar.
During the evening a social event at the Squib skittle alley in West st was arranged and sponsored by Steve Austen the Mayor of Bridgwater from his own budget. Approximately 50 people attended and a buffet was included.The Czech rep Antonin Machala won the skittles tournament.
Saturday 7 March
The Bridgwater Arts Centre had been hired in it’s entirety for the whole day. This cost £250 to which each twinning group had contributed £50 (so £300 income). The remaining £50 was earmarked for publicity. Posters initially for Rabi Gabbi had cost £21 with additional flyers for the conference costing £28. However, after Rabi Gabbi pulled out we had to pay for new Marilunari posters which cost £21 further.
An early morning BBC radio interview with Brian + Nathalie McAndrews was broadcast on BBC Somerset Sound.
The Art Centre was set out for the Conference with stalls from each group
The German and Maltese stalls filled the bar The French stall filled the foyer .The Czech,Italian and Hungarian stalls took up the gallery space.A late and surprising arrival by Cllr Alison Hamlin of the Schwalm Eder Kreis district twinning also requested space. This may have been a confusion with an anticipated ‘sedgemoor; display – however, this was already in place and consisted of several boards promoting sedgemoor generally and provided by Claire Faun. A space was nevertheless found in the gallery area.
The Mayor of Bridgwater opened the conference at 1100 and acted as compere throughout. Every 30 minutes a presentation took place from the stage.
Technical assistance for the day came from Adrian Baker free of charge.
Whilst most groups included food on their stalls we also provided a giant paella served from the garden by Kate Gardner of Purple Spoon Events. This cost £100 of which £70 was donated by Tim Mander chair of the Czech group (although he had originally hoped to be sponsoring goulash)
Yvette Staelens and the Voice of the People choir performed FOC on stage
Programme for the day
1100 Mayor’s welcome
1115 La Ciotat
1245 lunch (Kate Gardiner )
1315 Voice of the People
1515 plenary –Mayor
Attendance for the day was not easy to quantify as guests came and went throughout but an estimate might be c.100+.
The French delegation were afterwards taken to lunch at the Green Olive by Derek Alder and Keith Giles at their own expense.Keith & Derek also helped FOC with some transport.
During the evening the band Marilunari performed a concert on stage at the art centre. Also Dom Spencer from Marsa sang a couple of karaoke songs from Malta.
Ticket sales were 62 at £10 = £620. This was the income we were relying on to cover the Marilunari costs and any shared costs (minibus/fuel etc)
Sunday 8th March
Ian Tucker drove the Hungarians + Carla the Italian to Gatwick FOC
Brian took the 4 French to Bristol airport and then Marilunari who had an additional concert at the Sheppey Inn,Godney which raised £100 for the project fund and the manager gave an additional £20 for food directly to the band
Brian then drove Marilunari to Watchet where they had an additional concert at the Pebbles Inn which raised £100 for the project fund. Ben Allen the host raised an additional £50 which he gave directly to the band.
Monday 9th March
The minibus was returned. Brian drove Antonin Machala to Bristol airport for 1320 for the 1520 flight and the Marilunari band to Exeter for the day
Tuesday 10th March
Brian returned to Exeter at 0230 am to collect the Italians and drive them to Gatwick for 0720 for the 0920 flight.