In 1990 Antonin Machala, then Chairman of the Uherske Hradiste Social Democrats (CSSD) wrote to Labour News in the UK asking for help in the first democratic elections following the collapse of Communism. Brian Smedley -elected as a Sedgemoor District Councillor (12.7.1990) was the only person to reply. Correspondence ensued followed by some early visits.
10-26 August 1991 Brian Smedley travelled to Czechoslovakia to meet Antonin Machala. Hitchiking to the Czech border and then taking the cheaper Czech trains spending one night in Prague (Tues 13 Aug) then met Antonin at Stare Mesto railway station Uherske Hradiste 14 Aug 1991.
30.9.1991 The Bridgwater Czechoslovakia Friendship Society was formed at a meeting at the Bridgwater Arts Centre.
In attendance Brian Smedley, Mac McCausland, Andrea Scott, Dave Hanna, Glenn Cane, Andy Pole, Elaine Di Campo, Adrian Fraser, Cathy Smedley, Iva Breckova
Secretary Cllr Brian Smedley , Chairman Cllr Sandy Buchanan, treasurer Cllr Mac McCausland. Dave Hanna was in charge of Press and artwork. The Society had 75 members by end of first year.
A major programme of fundraising from Autumn of 1991 into 1992 included
Sponsored 5-a-sdie football tournaments at Chilton Trinity
A series of ‘Year Shows’ at the Art Centre whereby actors and musicians would cover songs from several years with an 8 in it (apparently a key number for Czechs)..1938, 1958, 1978
7.Dec 1991 -1968 was the first show
A series of rock concerts at ”No Jacket Required’ a bar on West Quay
The Society approached local businesses to get a deal whereby on production of a Czech passport visitors would get reductions in the shops. SDC gave swimming in the Sedgemoor Splash FOC
November 1991 Antonin Machala visit Britain and spoke at a public meeting at the Art Centre (Wed 6 Nov 1991). At this meeting Smedley spoke of the ‘History of Czechoslovakia and the Munich crisis 1938’, Dave Hanna spoke of ‘Communism in Czechoslovakia 1948-89’ and Steve Day spoke of ‘The 1989 Revolutions in East Europe’
27.11.1991 Sedgemoor District Council gave £150 grant to the Society