Sunday, 19 February 2012


Bridgwater College Film and Media students have travelled with us in past to the Czech Republic -where they visited the vast Barrandov film studios and to the smaller  VIBA studios in Slovenia. This year they opted for the gargantuan Cinecitta studios in Rome, Italy and walked amongst sets of Biblical proportions and imperial dimensions.

Flying from Bristol to Rome Fiumicino in a snowy early February, the 54 strong group were met at the airport by coach and transferred to the beach hotel of Oasa di Kufra in nearby Sabaudia which they shared with rowing teams from Russia, Austria , Belorus and the Ukraine -mainly half their age and twice their size.

The Spread out band
On their first night they were treated to a presentation about Italian cinema by teacher Damiano Pellegrini from nearby Nettuno- in which he specifically concentrated on the treatment of Italian Unification in the movies, and afterwards he pulled out an italian reggae band and performed on percussion with them . The students danced the night away to the excellent 'Spread Out Band' as they were called  (by themselves I would add) . 


The next day the students travelled to nearby Nettuno where Damiano and his students welcomed them in their school and did a presentation  for them. The staff - mainly Nuns- were on hand  and the headteacher handed out (and signed) copies of her book about the history of the school. 
Students in Nettuno

Nettuno was the site of the American landings during World War 2 and so a visit to the American Cemetary and the Museum of the landings was essential followed by a visit to nearby Anzio where the British and Commonwealth troops landed and the plot of land where many of them were buried.


on the set of 'Gangs of New York'
The visit to Cinecitta in Rome was the highpoint of the trip and included a guided tour around the sets of  the TV drama 'Rome' and the 'Gangs of New York' set (which effortlessly merged into one another) along with various other sets-including an in-production 'Romeo and Juliet' and a multi media suite which showed constant clips from  famous Italian film moments.

During the afternoon the students were able to wander at leisure around the real Historical centre of Rome - which , to be honest, looked less realistic . 

On the final day the group visited the town of Priverno where we have good civic contacts established through our Triangulation policy via our Czech partners in Uherske Hradiste . American-Italian guide Suzy took us on a tour of the old medieval hillside town  (badly timed as it was shutting down for siesta...) and Mayor of Priverno, Umberto Macci invited the students into the Town Hall where he took part in their film documentary by answering questions about Italian politics, the Italian Media and even his favourite film (apparently 'the 1988 Italian classic 'Cinema Paradiso').  One student asked him "Why did you get involved in politics?" to which Umberto answered "This is the question I ask myself each morning as i'm shaving...."
Mayor of Priverno, Umberto Macci

By the day of departure the icy cold sleet had taken hold and the last few hours in Rome mainly involved lurking around the Vatican city seeking shelter. Where was a Pope when you needed one! Well, people had difficulty remembering his name as it was - but it probably wasn't the best place to ask a waiter who the Pope was these days..."And who is Queen of England!?" was the reply. Fair enough. Best check on Wikipedia....

Friday, 17 February 2012

Bridgwater Czech Slovak Friendship Society 20th AGM

The Bridgwater Czech/Slovak Friendship society Annual General Meeting heard this week about yet another busy and exciting year of Internationalist events and plans for an increased programme in 2012-13. The meeting also elected several new officers and paid tribute to outgoing ones.

Chairman Tim Mander    
Tim Mander, longterm organiser of the Sedgemoor Unison football tours around Europe, was elected as Chairman of the Society to replace Marek Delong who was leaving the county. Tim, two goal hero of the Bridgwater victory over the  Italians in Priverno last year but who failed to score in La Ciotat this year, works for Sedgemoor District Council where he is the Estates Valuer.

Vice Chair Nigel Carter
Nigel Carter, who was one of the pioneers involved in the very first group trip to the former Czechoslovakia back in 1992, has worked as a volunteer driver for the friendship society  in recent years and was elected as Vice Chairman.

Treasurer Simon Hann
Cambridge University student ,Simon Hann, who lives in Woolavington and went to the Czech Republic on a Bridgwater International organised history trip 3 years ago, was elected treasurer for the year, replacing Cllr Kathy Pearce  who stood down.


Secretary Brian Smedley
Founder Cllr Brian Smedley was re-elected as secretary, a post he has held now for 20 years. Speaking after the meeting he said "What started as a town to town twinning between Bridgwater and Uherske Hradiste has developed into a major Internationalist programme not only with the former Czechoslovakia but also other countries around Europe. One of our key strategies this year is the pursuit of 'Triangulation', which is a development from traditional twinning to a broader definition. This means we encourage contacts amongst contacts within our twin towns and THEIR twin towns, thus in the past year we have linked with Uherske Hradistes Italian and Hungarian twin towns -Priverno and Sarvar and have introduced our Czech friends to La Ciotat-Bridgwater's twin town in France. This is to us an obvious way to develop International links to the benefit of linked communities ."

"In recent years Bridgwater International, which operates the programme for the Friendship Society, has organised projects for Choirs, football teams, students , family centre workers and general tourists all of which boost international co-operation and understanding , encourage business and economic development and promote the image of the towns around the world."


Anyone wanting to join the activities of the Society during 2012-13 should contact Brian Smedley on Some of the projects open to the wider public include.

AUGUST;- 20th Anniversary trip to the Czech Republic including Prague and Uherske Hradiste

OCTOBER;- Football trip to Priverno in Italy.

The meeting further agreed to stage a series of Internationalist events in Bridgwater during 2012 to coincide with the visits  by partner groups. These would include a Slovenian event in March, Hungarian in April and Czech in June.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


The Bridgwater Czech Slovak Friendship  Society will be holding it's 20th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING on Thursday 16th February at 8pm in the FOUNTAIN INN, West Quay, Bridgwater.

The Friendship society was formed in September 1991 and on June 18th 1992 Bridgwater became the first UK town to twin with a Czech town (Uherske Hradiste) after the velvet revolution of 1989.

(Cllr Smedley eating chips)
The group runs trips to the Czech and Slovak republics as part of the wider programme of International link projects organised by Bridgwater International and hosts Czech,Slovak and other International guests in Bridgwater .

Secretary, Cllr Brian Smedley (Left), says "At the meeting we will review our programme for 2011 and preview our plans for 2012. We'll have a look at the state of the accounts and we'll elect Officers for 2012-13."

Marek Delong-outgoing chairman

Current Chairman, Czech born Marek Delong, will be standing down due to his iminent departure to his home town and treasurer, Cllr Kathy Pearce, will also be looking for someone else to takeover from her. Anyone interested to attend is welcome.