AN English Cotswolds town had a special guest as it held a get-together recently to mark its growing friendship with Bathurst.
The guest was Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downer and the get-together was the Cirencester and City of Bathurst Community Friendship evening held at the town’s parish church.
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.
A friendship relationship between Cirencester and Bathurst was raised during that visit and has been further explored in the years since.
The evening was a chance for Cirencester’s organisations to come together to hear about the plans for the initiative between the two communities and to suggest ways to get involved.
Cirencester Community Development Trust (CCDT) chair Shirley Alexander said part of the plan is to set up a fund in Cirencester that will pay for a young person from the area, who would not usually have the chance, to travel to Bathurst and experience a life-changing opportunity – through work, study, sports or in the voluntary sector.
“We are delighted to be playing a central role in this initiative,” she said.
Mr Downer, the longest-serving foreigh minister in Australian history, was appointed Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in March 2014.
He was elected to the Federal Parliament in 1984 and held his seat until his retirement from Parliament in July 2008. He served as Foreign Affairs Minister from 1996 to 2007.
As part of the friendship activities in Cirencester, a giant postcard, standing at four foot by six foot, has been created to be sent to Bathurst mayor Graeme Hanger at the end of this month.
The people of Bathurst were invited to submit photos, paintings or drawings to be used on the postcard, to be selected by a judging panel in the English town.
A gathering was also held in June in Cirencester to give the town’s business community the chance to hear about plans for the friendship arrangement.
The Bathurst and Cirencester friendship initiative has a Facebook page and a Twitter handle: @CirenBathurstFr.