Author Archives: cbccomms4

Tour Guides discover Annecy

Four Blue Badge Tourist Guides, who regularly guide visitors around Cheltenham and the Cotswolds, were recently hosted by the Annecy Tourist guides.   Jane Handoll, Mary Moxham, Kay Thorpe and Mary Badger were met by the President of the Annecy Tourist Guides Association, Anne Pellas and other members, who accompanied them on a full programme of visits and excursions, exploring the history and culture of Annecy and its environs in Haut-Savoie.  A reception at the Town Hall included a meeting with the deputy mayor Valerie Gonzo-Massol and colleague Laurent Terrier.

The focus of discussion was the possibility of collaboration around the events of Heritage Open Days in early September.   This festival is European wide, and it was suggested that Cheltenham’s festival could include exhibitions about the history and culture of Annecy, whilst a reciprocal exhibition would be mounted in Annecy focusing on Cheltenham.

The guides also visited the restored Old Prison in the very centre of Annecy, and enjoyed a cruise on the lake, a guided walking tour of Annecy Old Town, a dinner offering traditional food of the region in a mountain restaurant, a visit to a cheese making farm at Les Aillons, a visit to the restored monastery at Chartreuse d’Aillons which included a fascinating guided tour, a lunch in a country restaurant, again offering traditional local produce, a short hike on the plateau of le Semnoz to enjoy the panoramic views, a visit to the Convent Basilica of the Visitation to view extraordinary stained glass windows.  The day concluded with a very sociable fondue evening at the home of Odile Dauchez, one of the guides, where we were able to enjoy a slide show presentation of the groups’ visit to Cheltenham last October 2017.

On our final morning, our host Anne Pellas took us back to the Old Prison, to view an exhibition on architecture and urbanism next to water.   This gave us the opportunity to learn how the town has developed over the centuries, but also to focus on 20th and 21st century urban development of the town of Annecy and its environment.  The long drought of recent months is clearly a source of concern for urban planners.

Finally, a small group of guides came to the station to bid us farewell, after our action packed and thoroughly enjoyable stay in beautiful Annecy.


Forging new links and friendships with Weihai

Twenty three residents from Cheltenham celebrated over 30 years of friendship with its Chinese twin town of Weihai and 20 years since the two towns were officially ‘twinned’ during a recent 3 -day stay in the beautiful coastal city of Weihai.  Weihai, formerly called Weihaiwei, is a prefecture-level city in eastern Shandong province, China, and a major seaport. It borders Yantai to the west and the Yellow Sea to the east.

Memoranda of Understanding were signed by the Mayor of Cheltenham, the Mayor of Weihai and Judy Woodman, International Manager at Gloucestershire College on 19 October 2018 setting out closer future cooperation in the fields of education, sport, and promoting Cheltenham and the Cotswolds as a tourism destination to the Chinese market.

Highlights of the stay included visits to Weihai Ivy International School, which looks forward to developing links with Gloucestershire College and attracting overseas participants to its Summer Sailing School, and  Weihai Vocational School, which featured an impressive arts, crafts and textiles exhibition. A visit to a silk shop and exhibition provided fascinating insights into this important Chinese tradition.

A visit by ferry to nearby Liugong Island was particularly special for Annette Walker and her son Sam where they were able to see the place of her mother’s wedding on 18 April, 1938.   Liugong Island was once an important navy base during the Qing Dynasty, and now a popular tourist destination.  With over nine miles of coastline, the island is home to the Sino-Japanese Museum, former residences and restored buildings of historical interest.

With 1,000 km of coast, Weihai boasts beautiful scenery, a temperate climate, and world-class seafood cuisine. Its slogan: East or West, Weihai is the best. For anyone interested in information on Weihai, the International Choir Festival or the International Triathlon taking place next year in Weihai, please contact the Twinning Officer. 


From Weihai the group travelled with the bullet train to Beijing and spent two adventurous days visiting the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and other attractions, organised by Worlds Apart in Cheltenham in conjunction with China Links.

Cheltenham Remembers Servicemen in Annecy

From 14-16 September a delegation from Cheltenham was invited to Annecy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the crashing of a British bomber on the Pont de Tasset, near Annecy.
The delegation was led by the chair of Twinning and a former Mayor, together with representatives from the Cheltenham Branch of the Royal British Legion and Royal Air Force Association, who all laid wreaths on behalf of Cheltenham and its people in honour of the airmen of the RAF who lost their lives, and also in acknowledgement of the citizens of Annecy who died as a result of the crash.    The resistance cemetery and memorials at the plateau des Glieres, where 125 members of the Resistance were killed by invading German forces,  were also visited, as well as the Necropolis and resistance museum at Morette and the sites are a poignant reminder of some dark days in the shared history of Annecy and Cheltenham.   At the commemoration ceremonies young children participated in the laying of wreaths which was particularly moving and gives hope for the future.

Read a full report by Michael Bryant, Chairman Cheltenham Branch of the RAFA

Visit to Weihai

To celebrate over 30 years of friendship with our Chinese twin town of Weihai and 20 years since the two towns were officially ‘twinned’, 23 residents of Cheltenham will be visiting Weihai for 4 days in October 2018.

The visit will be led by the Mayor of Cheltenham and talks will take place on future co-operation between the two towns in the fields of education, sport, trade and promoting Cheltenham and the Cotswolds as a tourism destination to the Chinese market.

The group will spend 3 full days in Weihai visiting a vocational school, an international language school, the Sino-Japanese museum on Lugong Island which was a former British Naval base and visits to local attractions.

Anyone interested in forming a link with Weihai please contact the Twinning Officer. 

From Weihai the group will take the bullet train to Beijing and spend 2 days visiting the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and other attractions in Weihai.

Picture of last visit to Weihai in 2012

Fund Raising Supper at Spice Lodge, Montpellier Drive

The work of Cheltenham Twinning Association and local charities was celebrated during a successful fundraising supper hosted by Spice Lodge in Cheltenham, attended by the Mayor of Cheltenham, Cllr Bernard Fisher, together with many guests.

Set in the charming former Old Mansion House, guests enjoyed a drinks and canapé reception followed by a delicious two-course pan-Asian dinner. Entertainment was provided by magician, Andy Field, who captivated guests with his magical card illusions.

Speaking at the event, Cllr Diggory Seacome, Chairman of Cheltenham Twinning Association, emphasised the importance of the links with Cheltenham’s  twin towns, and in particular the support provided for local young people to participate in European youth activities, such as the annual Peace Camp.

Valuable funds were raised for Cheltenham Twinning Association as well as Cheltenham Mayor’s chosen charities, the Pied Piper Appeal, which supports sick and disabled children across Gloucestershire, and Cheltenham Animal Shelter, which re-homes unwanted and abandoned stray cats, dogs and small animals.

Göttingen Students experience work placements in Cheltenham

Ten students from Göttingen are experiencing working life in Cheltenham as they embark on either a 4 or 6 week placement with local companies, such as UK Naric, Abercrombie and Kent, local charities such as Sue Ryder and Oxfam  and Cheltenham Borough Council.   All are staying with families and enjoying being part of English family life as well.   The photo is of the group on their first day during a guided walking tour of Cheltenham. They have also been on a trip through the Cotswolds and a visit to Oxford including Exeter College, Christ Church College, Oxford Castle, and for one of the students, entry to the beautifully curated JRR Tolkien exhibition. Lots more is planned!

Youth Peace Camp 2018 – ‘A Space Week in the City of Nicolaus Copernicus’

With the support of Cheltenham Twinning Association and some determined fund-raising, six young people from Cheltenham together with two youth leaders from CMAS (Community Mentoring and Support CiC) had a wonderful opportunity to participate in the annual Peace Camp along with young people from France, Germany and Poland, in the historic city of Torún (Poland).

The group participated in a series of educational scientific research activities in the science labs of the Mill of Knowledge Modernity Centre in Torún, the birthplace of the famous astronomer Copernicus, and also enjoyed exploring the historic town including a visit to the Gingerbread Museum to taste delicious gingerbread cakes, a famous local delicacy!

The idea of organising international youth meetings originated from the authorities in Göttingen, who wanted young people from partner cities to join in activities to promote peaceful coexistence between people of different nationalities. We are delighted the summer holiday peace camps have been taking place for twenty years, each year, alternating between Cheltenham (UK), Göttingen and Wittenberg (Germany), Pau (France) and Torún (Poland).