Zreče crest

Zreče Twinning Praised by Diplomats

Representation at the Slovenian Embassy in London

The twinning between Zreče and Sedbergh has been so successful that other towns in England and Slovenia are now looking to use the two towns as a model for their own twinning initatives.

David Burbidge

David Burbidge

In June 2008 Sedbergh resident David Burbidge was invited to a reception at the Slovenian embassy in London celebrating Slovenia National Day and the end of Slovenia’s term of office as president of the council of the European Union. David, who has organised over a dozen cultural exchanges between Sedbergh and Zreče plus work experience opportunities for visiting Slovene students, the only part-time Slovene language course in Britain, and a Slovene folk song society, was invited to join international diplomats and high ranking officials at the reception.

‘It was fantastic,’ said David. ‘All of the diplomats had heard about the twinning between Zreče and Sedbergh which is surprising because Sedbergh is very small really. But I think some of them thought it was bigger than it is because I was introduced as ‘the Ambassador of the Yorkshire Dales’ and asked if our embassy was in Sedbergh.’

‘Slovenia’s Ambassador to the UK, Iztok Mirošič, who has been to Sedbergh twice to meet singers from Zreče, was very kind and when he shook my hand asked me to send his best wishes to the people of Sedbergh. I also met other people who are planning to twin with towns in Slovenia who were asking for advice about how to go about it. This included the Slovene Consul in Edinburgh who has plans for a partnership between the Scottish Cairngorn mountains and the Triglav National Park, and the Cornish town of St.Ives with Medvode.’

The Ambassador also wrote a very encouraging letter to the Slovene language class in Sedbergh praising them for their efforts. The class, which was approaching the end of its first term had been helped by Urska Firer in Zreče who received a surprise telephone call one Monday night from the students who introduced themselves and talked to her in Slovene. Afterwards Mr. Burbidge described her as ‘zvezda učiteljica.’ (star teacher).

Other Slovene influences in Sedbergh include a Potica-making competition, where people throughout the town were attempting to make Potica, from a Slovene recipe book, to be judged by visiting Slovenes. The Sedbergh Slovene language students would be baking the first batch for an earlier visit from a Slovene Embassy official to taste their attempts. ‘If he drops dead we will have to change the recipe for when the singers come from Zreče in August,’ said Mr. Burbidge.

The Sedbergh town notice board is also the first notice board in Britain to have notices in both English and Slovene, as well as extracts from the Zreč’s local newspaper ‘Novice’ about school visits to Zreče, accounts of the singers’ exchanges, and photos of many of the people from Slovenia who have visited Sedbergh. Three large signs alongside the main roads into Sedbergh proudly welcome visitors to Sedbergh ‘Twinned with Zreče, Slovenia.’.

‘Many of us in Sedbergh like to think that although our twin towns are thousands of miles apart, our hearts are so close together that it is like we live next door to each other,’ said Mr. Burbidge. ‘And although we don’t know everyone in Zreče yet, we like to think that nobody there is a stranger – just a friend we haven’t met yet.’