Enlargement, Citizenship and Participation
This year’s conference was organised by David Martin, Secretary of the Swindon Salzgitter Twinning Association, with support from the European Union and Swindon Borough Council, and the active participation of Swindon’s Mayor, Peter Stoddart.
The event kicked off with a dinner at Steam, Swindon’s Railway Museum, on Thursday 30th September, invited guests included the High Sheriff of Wiltshire, and the German Ambassador, delegations from Salzgitter (Germany), Ocotal (Nicaragua), Imatra (Finland). The delegation from Torun was headed by Zbigniew Fiderewicz (the Vice President of Torun), Bogdan Major (Councillor and Chairman of the Committee for City Development, Cooperation and Promotion), Agnieszka Lisek (from the Department of Development and European Integration), Henryk Tomaszewski (from the International Programmes Office at Niclaus Copernicus University) and Romuald Po?lednik (Polish British Foundation at International House). Members from the Swindon Torun Group also attended, including Stan Pajak, Chris Bulzacki and Sylwia Sitek.
The Conference began with the opening of the Twin Towns Exhibition at Steam, which featured Panoramas of Toru? by photographer Marek Czarnecki.
There were presentations from representatives of participating towns, Toru? Vice President referred to the rich history of Toru?, it’s development plans and booming tourist industry, a film was shown giving an overview of Torun.
Daryl Jones, Senior Economic Development Officer at Swindon Borough Council, discussed European Funding and how to apply for it. Swindon receives around £2 million each year from the European Social Fund, whilst farmers in Wiltshire receive around £35 million.
A workshop session was led by David Bruce from the University of West England www.tourism-research.org, and Julia Hasse from Germany, they presented the PREPARe wheel, a method to support a baseline and review process for activities between different local authorities, with a view to using this method in the context of twinning. Separate groups discussed issues of tourism, business development, municipal plans and youth and community exchanges. A temporary power cut in the building failed to interupt proceedings, delegates grappled with multiple languages, exchanged ideas about their respective experiences, sought to extend cooperation and plan for the developent of initiatives to qualify for additional European Funding.
In the evening, the Toru? delegation visited the Polish Community Centre, which has been thriving in Swindon for over fifty years.
Saturday was devoted to sight-seeing around Swindon, and a trip was organised to Avebury, the site of ancient burial grounds and stone circle.
In July of this year I had the opportunity to study Polish language and culture at the Mikolaja Kopernika (Nicholas Copernicus) University of Torun. This opportunity came directly from the formal twinning link made between Swindon and Torun in May.
It was the experience of a life-time! I will tell more of my story soon – a short account will be given to delegates at the twinning conference on 10th October at the University of Bath in Swindon, together with a small display of some of the photographs that I took. The town, the people, the food, culture and surrounding countryside were a real delight and I recommend a visit. Posted by Ryszard Gagola
Following an invitation from the President of Torun, and participation from Torun Councils Department of Promotion, a group of young Swindon people (Bev, Christine, Adam, Sunny, Danny, Flo and Holly) were pulled together from Summer Challenge, Headzup and the Penhill Youth Centre, in Poland they joined a larger international group (young people from Poland, Slovakia and Germany) to spend seven days camping and navigating down the River Drweca close to Torun.
When they arrived back in Torun, the group attended a reception with Torun’s President, they were interviewed by Polish national television, were presented with t-shirts and gingerbread (Toru? is famous for it’s gingerbread or pierniki) and visited the local planetarium.
Group leader Holly reported, “Our new twin town of Torun is a beautiful city and we all hope we will get the opportunity to visit it again.”
Romuald Po?lednik, Grzegorz Chruszcz and Bill McAlister arrived in Swindon on the 4th March from the Polish British Foundation in Toru?, whose aims are to promote the English language and culture in Poland.
The Foundation has proposed to initiate International Challenge Day in Torun and Swindon, an international event, encouraging people across the world to take part in physical activity.
The Foundation is also organiser of a Dictation Competition during which students from the Torun region will compete in writing an English dictation, first prize for the winner willl be a visit to Swindon.
During the morning, the delegation visited the Swindon Museum to view a new exhibition of contemporary British paintings. Click here for details.
Then at the Civic Offices, there was a meeting with the Mayor of Swindon, Derek Benfield, during which the Swindon Mayor responded enthusiastically to the idea of International Challenge Day and the Dictation Competition.
Later the group met with Celia Yeoman from Artscape, and with sport officers at the Life Style Unit at the County Ground.
Swindon Councillor, Stan Pajak, who accompanied the delegation reported: “I thought our lightning visit went very well. We had a very positive reception at the Life Style unit at the County Ground and it appears the Challenge Day on the 26th will happen with support from the sport officers and the mayor.”
An evening of entertainment at New College, Queens Drive, Friday 11th July, 7.30 pm
Drama Centre “Na Poddaszu” (“In the Attic”) from Torun, Poland performed to mark the signing of the friendship agreement between Swindon and Torun, a performance in English by a Polish youth group from Torun. A legend about the invasion of frogs, with Copernicus and other Polish characters, live music, Torun gingerbread – and some help from the audience.
No More Horses
a unique mixture of live UK hip-hop with instrumental funk, breaks, turntablism, percussion and freestyle mayhem.
A Friendship and Cooperation Agreement was signed between Swindon and Torun, 13th May 2003.
- development of trade and economy by co-ordinating business links
- education by promoting links between schools, colleges and universities
- culture and tourism by the promotion of exchanges of all kinds between the people of Swindon and Toru?
- mutual exchange of information and ideas to strengthen mutual respect, and understanding
- environmental protection and ecological education
- European Union and assistance programmes
The Agreement was signed by the Mayor of Swindon, Stan Pajak, and the President of Torun, Micha? Zaleski in Torun on 13th May 2003. The ceremony took place in Torun’s 13th Century Town Hall.
During October to December 2004, a group of seven trainees from Torun stayed with families in Swindon and worked for a number of local companies, including RWE N Power, the Royal Mail, Swindon Borough Council, Tyco Electronics and British Computer Society.
The trip was initiated by Torun Electricity Company (Zaklad Energetyczny w Toruniu) who partnered with Swindon Borough Council for successful application for funding from the European Union Leonardo da Vinci money. The project focus is on project management methodology Prince2, a standard methodology used by large enterprises, in addition, the group were able to brush up their language skills, establish business contacts and meet with the Mayor (photo attached).
A second group of trainees will arrive in Swindon as part of the project during February.