The NKTA’s first `Georgian Christmas Dinner` was held at The Priory, Caerleon, on January 7th 2020.  It gave members the opportunity to meet, dine, chat and raise a glass or two on the same evening our friends in the KNIA, our sister organisation in Kutaisi, were enjoying their own Christmas celebrations. 

The event was a success and we decided to organise another such Dinner the following year but the pandemic intervened a few months later.

Happily, we were able to arrange our second Georgian Christmas Dinner at The Priory on January 9th this year and a pleasing number of members accepted the invitation to attend.

The Dinner was held in The Priory’s dining room and on the evening the tables were decorated with lights, Georgian goblets, ornaments and candles together with colourful leaflets supplied by the Georgian Embassy.

At intervals throughout the evening, members enjoyed the reading of messages sent by our friends in the UK and Georgia, including those from Georgian Ambassador H.E. Sophiko Katsarava, our friends in Kutaisi Newport International Association, Kutaisi’s MP Dr. Zaza Lominadze and Jayne Bryant MS and NKTA Chair Dr Shirley Egley, both of whom were unable to attend due to illness.

The messages were read by Vice Chair Colin Mason, Sonia Fisher, Sylvia Mason and Peter Landers.

Dame Rosemary Butler read the greetings sent by the late Prof. Madonna Megrelishvili to our previous Georgian Christmas Dinner, a reminder of the sad losses the twinning has suffered over the past three years.

Cllr. Jane Mudd, the Leader of Newport City Council, spoke of her pride that Newport is twinned with such an ancient and beautiful city as Kutaisi and how the Association has the full support of the NCC in its aim of strengthening the friendship between the two communities.

VC Colin Mason presided generally (at very short notice) and gave an interesting update on the links he has helped foster between schools in Newport and Kutaisi and Dr. Lynn Foulstone presented a report, prepared by her University of South Wales colleague Dr. Shirley Egley, on the recently re-established partnership between the USW and the State University in Kutaisi.

Derek Pickup, who is both Georgian Consul to the UK and Chair of the Bristol Tbilisi Association, gave Christmas greetings in Georgian as did long-time Georgian residents in Newport Keti Rock and Vika Teckelbeckers.  Keti spoke about her childhood memories of Christmas in Kutaisi and the time she first learnt of the twinning of her home city with Newport.

The final toast, `to friendship`, was made with Georgian wine donated by the Georgian Ambassador and at the end the evening we assembled for a group photograph.

As members left, they commented on the excellent ambience and service provided by the Priory and others remarked that the evening is evidence that the ties of friendship between Newport and Kutaisi remain as strong as ever.

Derek Butler

NKTA Secretary

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