THE friendship is getting stronger between Bathurst and the town of Cirencester in England’s Gloucestershire.
A celebration and launch of the friendship arrangement between the two communities is set to be held in October in Cirencester, while there are also plans to send a young person from the English town to Bathurst each year for a “life-changing opportunity”.
Cirencester, north west of London, is the home of the ninth Earl and Countess Bathurst, who last visited the Australian city that bears their name during the bicentenary celebrations in May 2015.
Then mayor Gary Rush later wrote to the then mayor of Cirencester Mark Harris about the two councils forming a friendship and Cr Harris subsequently visited Bathurst during a family holiday last year.
Cirencester’s business community gathered in late June to listen to plans for the proposed friendship arrangement between the two communities.
Guests were briefed on the plans by Earl Bathurst, Cr Harris and new Cirencester mayor Nigel Robbins, as well as by the Cirencester Community Development Trust, which is facilitating the project. The announcement was made that a fund will be set up to pay for a young person from the area, who would not usually have the opportunity, to travel to Bathurst and experience a life-changing opportunity – be it through work, study, sports or in the voluntary sector.
“It was a great evening and it was great to gauge opinion and gain support for this idea,” Cr Harris said.
He said he was delighted the friendship was coming to fruition “thanks to the Earl and the Community Development Trust”.
“I am looking forward to helping with the plans, especially the idea of forming a trust to send someone to Australia every year,” Cr Harris said.
Peter Lloyd of Aura Care Living, which has a retirement village in Cirencester and which has pledged support for the friendship arrangement, said it was a great idea.
“It will help tourism in both regional capitals and give an insight into the history and heritage of Bathurst and its links to Cirencester. It is a great opportunity for businesses to connect, share knowledge and commercial opportunities,” he said.
Bathurst mayor Graeme Hanger said the idea of a friendship relationship with Cirencester was raised in 2015 when the Earl and Countess Bathurst visited the city during the bicentenary celebrations.
“Council is in discussions with the Cirencester Town Council to explore opportunities for a friendship relationship to promote awareness, communication between the people and organisations of the two regional capitals,” he said.