Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Welcome for guests from new twin town

A SPECIAL ceremony to mark the twinning of Henley with Bled will be held on Monday.

A SPECIAL ceremony to mark the twinning of Henley with Bled will be held on Monday.

Mayor Elizabeth Hodgkin will host the invitation-only event at the town hall where the official documents confirming the partnership will be signed.

Guests will include Janez Fajfar, the Mayor of Bled, Andrew Page, the British ambassador to the Republic of Slovenia, Iztok Jarc, the Slovenian ambassador to the UK, Renata Cvelbar-Bek, from the Slovenian embassy, Eva Stravs Podlogar, director of the Bled Tourist Board, and Jernej Slivnik, secretary to the Slovenian Rowing Association.

Also invited will be Lord Camoys, who is the deputy lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Janet Carr, who chairs South Oxfordshire District Council, and Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton and head of an all-parliamentary group for Slovenia.

Councillor Hodgkin said: “I am really pleased that this has come about. It had been discussed for three or four years and I had the opportunity in my mayoral year to start the ball rolling. Things just fell into place really quickly and we are ready for it and it will be lovely to meet the ambassadors again.

“The weekend will be a lovely time and that is just the beginning — there will be more to come as we want other organisations to be involved. Lots of people have expressed an interest.”

Bled has a population of 5,000, about half the size of Henley, and is strongly linked to rowing because the Slovenian national team trains there.

It hosts an international music festival similar to the Henley Festival and relies on its tourist trade.

Weddings are held on an island in the centre of Lake Bled in the same way they are on Temple Island.

The Slovenian delegation will arrive at Gatwick airport on Sunday morning and will attend a drinks reception and dinner at Leander Club hosted by the Mayor.

On Monday, guests will be taken on a trip on the Thames aboard Enchantress, an umpire launch which was built in Goring in 1913 for use at the Henley Royal Regatta. This will be followed by lunch and a tour of the River and Rowing Museum.

In the afternoon, there will be tours of The Henley College and Gillotts School, hosted by principal Tom Espley and headteacher Catharine Darnton respectively, followed by a talk from the visitors.

There will be afternoon tea at Hotel du Vin in New Street before the twinning ceremony and then a civic reception followed by another river trip on The Waterman by Hobbs of Henley.

The Bled party will leave on Tuesday.

Leander Club chief coach Mark Banks, who has visited Bled on many occasions, including for the 2011 rowing world championships, said: “Henley and Bled are both beautiful places to live and share a strong affinity with rowing and the waterside.

“The people of Bled looked after us exceptionally well in 2011, so Leander is proud to host our Slovenian guests on this occasion and we look forward to developing strong new friendships in the years to come.”

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