Report of the Bridgwater Twinning Forum 7/3/2015.
After many months of planning with all the 5 twinned groups in Bridgwater the week started.
On Sunday 1/3/2015 we travelled to Bristol Airport to meet our representatives from Marsa Councillor Dominic Spencer and his wife Claudette. We were delighted to see them and their entire luggage – much of which was Maltese food they and Marsa council had provided for our display on the day of the Forum/Conference. After collecting their hire car we came to Bridgwater where we had a late Sunday Dinner, as they had little sleep as up very early to get the plane they retired to the hotel for a good night’s sleep !
Monday was spent in and around Bridgwater for some retail therapy! In the evening we had a meeting of the Association at the Mayors Parlour where Dominic and Claudette renewed friendship and met some new people including our Deputy Mayor Councillor Leigh Redman who kindly hosted and chaired the meeting. Pat Morgan ran through her planned talk with slides that she had great help preparing by our web master ( and son ) James Morgan. Also professional photos provided by Jonathan Beacom who after emails asking to be able to use his work sent the photos electronically with permission to use them with his name on them. A few of her ideas were not quite correct so was so pleased that Dominic and Claudette were able to rectify them. Dominic had also brought with him a wonderful DVD made by the Marsa Historical Society with a brief History of Marsa which we all enjoyed.
There were a few days when they did some visiting of family and friends. Wednesday evening we had a meeting at the Arts Centre with Adrian the “sound man “when we went through all the arrangements and Dominic was able to meet many of the Bridgwater side of the Twinning Groups and some of our local councillors. On Thursday evening we went for a quite meal at a local Turkish restaurant and had time to talk and catch up with news about families and Marsa.
During the day on Friday Councillor Brian Smedley took all the visitors on a brief tour of our town and then to Bridgwater College where they were shown around and the band had a chance to perform in the College Music area. Lunch was enjoyed and visits to other areas enjoyed in a minibus.
Friday evening a Skittle Evening was held in a local pub called The Squib (named after the special Bridgwater Fireworks that are held aloft by people on a cosh (long pole) after the annual Carnival Procession in November) By this time in the week all the members from the other 5 countries had arrived and it was a chance for all to mix and meet informally with a game of skittles and wonderful food funded by our Mayor Steve Austen and cooked by Landlord Andy Danielles and his team. A very enjoyable evening was had by all including the Italian Band who joined in the skittles and gave some impromptu music. Everyone went to their respective “homes “Having had a great evening and sampled an English pub!
Saturday was to say the least a very busy day! It started with BBC Somerset’s Simon Parkin interviewing members from the French town of La Ciotat at breakfast time over the phone all about the day and advertising it .We had hired Bridgwater Arts Centre (The first one in England) We started at 9 am setting up our displays, much of which the information we had collected over the years but were very grateful to Victor at Visit Malta in London who gave us a huge amount of information and bags to give to people who were interested in Malta, we gave out over 50 bags! The doors opened to the public at 11am by which time our Treasurer Steve Morgan (retired chef) had prepared Maltese food hot and cold plus Maltese drinks so he was very busy serving. Joseph Abela our Vice Chair (Maltese but lives in Bridgwater) had prepared a dish called Baked Rice. We ran the DVD from the Marsa Historical Society all day on the display.
This was very well received. Our Mayor Councillor Steve Austen (also our President) opened the event and then each group had a 20 minute presentation throughout the day in the theatre when those who wanted to attended with a break for lunch, when a choir sang. Our display was extremely busy all day with dignitaries visiting and many keen to try the food and drink! Many people came that had lived, worked, holidayed there or were interested in finding out about Marsa and Malta. The local paper the Bridgwater Mercury had a reporter there and the following week there was an article in the paper with a lovely photo of our display with the food, Joseph, Steve and Mike our chairman.
One gentleman came to Pat after the presentation who said he knew nothing about Malta but now he does and intends to visit!
Dominic and Claudette met many people and with their charm and delightful personalities have made many new contacts that will help our twinning group.
At the end of the day Mayor Steve Austen summed up the day with the comment that it exceeded his wildest expectations!
There were gifts given by the French from La Ciotat to members from the English side of their group and other members from other countries. Dominic gave out gifts to all the countries taking part (including us) and the Mayor which commemorated the event. Other gifts were given also.
After we had all cleared up our displays we had time for a rest before the evening entertainment in the Arts Centre Theatre by the Italian Band Marilunri, a 3 piece band ,a girl singer who played the Accordion, a man on guitar who sang also and a male percussionist who borrowed an instrument from Bridgwater College. The event was well supported and was enjoyed by all. Dominic also gave a performance of two songs in Maltese and surprised all as very few knew he has a very good voice!
A very successful day- hard work by all involved but the people of Bridgwater are now more aware of the 5 twinned towns and one associated (Hungary) all the twinned associations are now more aware of each other and friendships made which was the main aim of the day.
We must thank Councillor Brian Smedley for all his organisational skills that have brought us all together to make this a wonderful occasion.