Meeting with members of the Georgian Rugby Team

MEMBERS of the GEORGIAN RUGBY TEAM met the Mayor, Councillor Herbie Thomas & Mayoress Ms Jackie Thomas of Newport on Monday 28th September ahead of their historic Rugby World Cup clash against New Zealand later that week.

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Mayor & Mayoress centre with NKTA members L-R Vika Tegelbeckers; Vera Brown; Sonia Fisher; Catherine Philpott & Derek Butler meeting members of the team

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Lock Giorgi Begadze and from Kutaisi, prop Irakli Nariashvili, wing Giorgi Pruidze & Giorgi Nemsadze with Newport’s Mayor

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe Lelos had been training at Newport High School and staying at the Celtic Manor Resort Hotel in preparation for their first ever tussle against the mighty All Blacks at the Millennium Stadium.

The reception at the Mayor’s parlour in Newport’s Civic Centre was very significant because of Newport and Kutaisi’s very special twinning relationship.

Lock Giorgi Begadze and from Kutaisi, prop Irakli Nariashvili, wing Giorgi Pruidze & Giorgi Nemsadze were all in attendance alongside assistant coach Michael Bradley to meet, not only the Mayor and Mayoress, but the Association’s Chair Sonia Fisher, Vera Brown, Derek Butler, Vika Tegelbeckers and Catherine Philpott.

In a lively meeting, both parties discussed Georgia’s growing stature in world rugby and the pride both cities shared in being twinned with each other.

Presents were exchanged, with the Georgians presenting the Mayor with a team tie and plaque.

Assistant coach Mr Bradley, who won 40 caps for Ireland as a player, said: “For all the people of Kutaisi, it’s fantastic to have connections all over the world. Keep it up and keep supporting Georgian rugby.”

The Mayor of Newport said that he had learnt much from meeting members of the team and had found out a little more about Georgian rugby that he hadn’t previously known. ‘As Kutaisi is our twinned city, we do not miss any match of the Georgian team; we support them and glad that our friends from Kutaisi are with us today. This day is memorable and will become part of our history.

The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff can hold 75,000 fans. I have information that 5,000 fans have arrived from New Zealand. I assure you that the other 70,000 people will support the Georgian team!’.  Chair, Sonia Fisher, added: “Sport is a wonderful way of crossing boundaries and making friends.”

Later in the week the team went on to play a very commendable match with New Zealand who won by 43-10. Headlines in the press declared All Blacks stutter to unconvincing win……’ Telegraph. The good quality of rugby played by the Georgian team was widely recognized by the pundits.

 

 

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The Visit to Georgia by Rosemary & Derek Butler and Caroline MacLachlan 2nd – 12th June 2015

PREPARATION
This event resulted from the visit to Tbilisi by NKTA members in 2014 when we were invited to attend the UK Embassy’s Queen’s Birthday Party as part of the twinning’s 25th anniversary celebrations.  During the planning stage held in the National Assembly with the UK’s Ambassador to Georgia, Alexandra Hall Hall, and others present, Rosemary asked the Welsh Rugby Union’s President, Dennis Gethin, if he would look at the possibility of a Welsh rugby tour of Georgia.  Dennis was interested as few Welsh teams have played there and it was a rugby playing country he had long wanted to visit and he offered to investigate the possibility of a tour in 2015. At an Assembly lunch Rosemary organised for the Ambassador in March, to which Dennis was also invited, he confirmed that arrangements for the tour were underway and that the team would consist of a selection of Wales’ best Under 21 players.  Dennis’s information was that that they would be travelling as a `Crawshay’s XV` and that the travelling party would consist of around 25 players and 40 Crawshay `Vice Presidents` (largely ex-Welsh International players), together with him and his wife Jan.  As the tour was taking place as a result of a request from Rosemary, Dennis suggested that Rosemary and I accompany the visitors and the Ambassador asked Rosemary if she would be willing to talk to political and civic groups while in Georgia.  Martin Jardine and Paul Roberts from the Wales Food Technology Centre and four Welsh military bandsmen joined the visiting party later. Caroline was intending to visit Kutaisi this year for important talks with the Rector of Akaki Tsereteli State University on developing closer co-operation between ATSU and the University of South Wales and she, too, was invited to join the group.

TBILISI
The rugby players and officials flew to Tbilisi on 1st June and we, together with Dennis & Jan, travelled a day later. We were met at the airport by senior Embassy officer John Geddes and our friends Dr Mamuka Melkadze and his wife Eka and driven to the Holiday Inn. The following morning around forty KNIA members travelled the 150 miles to Tbilisi by coach to greet us.  But before their arrival we were met by the Ambassador and Senior Embassy Officer Sophiko Katsarava  and taken to  a gathering of political and civic representatives (mostly women) at the Radisson.  Rosemary was introduced by the Ambassador and she gave a talk on `Women’s Participation on Politics in Wales`.  The discussion that followed centred on the opportunities for women in politics in contemporary Georgia.

Madlen, Rosemary, Jan and Gethin at the reunion lunch.

Madlen, Rosemary, Jan and Gethin at the reunion lunch.

We left for a restaurant in central Tbilisi where, together with Dennis and Jan, we met many of our Georgian friends headed by the marvellous KNIA Chair Madonna Megrelishvili and enjoyed a joyful reunion lunch. It was a highly animated party with hugs, socialising and many informal speeches. Dennis and Jan were amazed by their first experience of a truly Georgian welcome.

Welsh supporters at the first ruby match.

Welsh supporters at the first ruby match.

Later we were taken to Rustavi, a small town outside Tbilisi, for the first of the
international rugby matches,.  It was a big event for Rustavi and the stadium was full.  The teams were well matched but the Welsh team won by a narrow margin.  This was the first time we had met the Welsh team and officials since our arrival and they were full of praise for the hospitality they were receiving from the Georgian Rugby Union.  The evening ended with a splendid meal back in Tbilisi hosted by GRU President George Nijaradze and the many speeches of friendship were accompanied by a dramatic thunderstorm and exceptionally heavy rain – a prelude to the floods that devastated Tbilisi ten days later On Thursday morning we, together with one of our dearest Georgian friends Madona Tkeshelashvili, attended an enjoyable event organised by the UK Embassy entitled `A Taste of Britain` where Martin and Paul presented a tempting display of Welsh produce. It was held in a pavilion similar to the traditional bandstands found in British parks. Throughout their visit Martin and Paul did a magnificent job promoting Welsh food products and as we tasted welsh lamb and Welsh whisky accompanied by welsh airs from the military band, we could have easily imagined ourselves back home – except for the soaring temperature.

Rosemary and the Ambassador then departed for the Georgian Parliament where they had formal discussions with the Speaker.

The Embassy’s annual Queen’s Birthday Party was held that evening and amongst the many guests the large contingent of rugby players and officials were especially noticeable in their smart red outfits while the military bandsmen again provided a musical background.   As at last year’s QBP, Welsh flags were prominent and this was much remarked upon – a sign of the growing links between Wales and Georgia.  Many of our KNIA friends had also been invited and the evening soon turned into a genuine `party`.

A  break on the journey to Telavi.

A break on the journey to Telavi.

On Friday, we, together with the Ambassador and Embassy staff, Dennis & Jan and Martin & Paul were driven to Telavi in the Khakheti region of Eastern Georgia.  We travelled through idyllic and largely unpopulated countryside in the Embassy’s mini-bus, a vehicle smothered with large images of the Union Flag.  No occupants of the few cars we met en route could have doubted our nationality.  The purpose of the visit was the second talk by Rosemary, this time to the region’s civic leaders on `Welsh Political Identity – Wales in the UK and the EU` while Martin & Paul again organised an exhibition promoting Welsh produce.  It was a long day but we had time to chat with the Embassy staff, see parts of Georgia we hadn’t visited before and try a few `samples` at one of Khakheti’s vineyards.

Saturday morning and afternoon was largely free and we were hosted by Dr Mamuka Melkadze, Nick Okreshidze and their families in one of Tbilisi’s finest restaurants.

The Welsh rugby team enjoying Georgian cuisine.

The Welsh rugby team enjoying Georgian cuisine.

But before lunch we had time for a quick visit to the National Museum to see the paintings by the country’s best known artist Niko Pirosmani, works dating from the turn of the 20th century that convey the essence of Georgian life and culture. That evening we attended the second match between the young rugby players from Wales and Georgia and at the end if the game the RU Presidents Dennis Gethin and George Nijaradze, the Ambassador & Embassy staff, both teams, both sets of officials, all 40 Crawshay Vice Presidents  Martin & Paul, Jan Gethin, the bandsmen and Rosemary, Caroline and I, were taken to one of Tbilisi’s largest restaurants  to celebrate the outstanding success of the rugby tour.  Many of the Welsh sportsmen visiting Georgia for the first time told us they would never forget the hospitality they had received and several Vice Presidents claimed it was “the best Crawshay tour ever”. In scenes recalling a Pirosmani painting, there was much carousing and speechmaking and many remarked that the Welsh sportsmen, like the Georgian youngsters, had been a credit to their country.  It was a fitting end to an unforgettable five days.   On the following day, Sunday, Rosemary, Jan and Dennis and the rugby contingent flew back to the UK while the ever obliging Dr Mamuka Melkadze drove Caroline and me to Kutaisi.

KUTAISI
On arrival we were taken to the Bagrati Hotel where we were met by close friends Maia Alavadze and Maia Abdeladze and shown to our rooms which were modern and extremely large. We were then taken to a nearby restaurant for an early dinner where we had ample time to catch up with the news of the many people we know and recent events in Kutaisi.

Caroline and Derek meeting Mayor Shota Murghulia at City Hall.

Caroline and Derek meeting Mayor Shota Murghulia at City Hall.

A full programme for our short visit had been prepared enabling us to meet a variety of different people and discuss future developments and collaborative activity. The meeting with Mayor Shota Murghulia focussed very much on the plans for the celebration in 2016 of the 25th anniversary of the twinning. The Mayor expressed his commitment to making this an occasion to remember and pledged his full support to publicising the wealth of activity that has taken place between the two cities since 1989. An interesting thread which emerged during this meeting was that one of the children, Timouraz Murgulia, who came to Newport more than twenty years ago with a group of children and their two teachers is a relative of the Mayor. Over the years, and prior to his election as Mayor, Shota Murghulia had heard about Newport through his family connections.

Nino, Madonna, Caroline, Lyalya, Eka, Maia, Tamriko & Elise .

Nino, Madonna, Caroline, Lyalya, Eka, Maia, Tamriko & Elise.

Our time spent at Akaki Tsereteli State University was extremely positive and we were able to see many friends who teach in the English Language Department and to participate in selected student seminars. A particularly interesting project, being led by Elise Pantshava and Natia Kvachakhidze, involves the translation of `The Mabinogian` from an English translation into Georgian. This is clearly a challenging venture and at the meeting attended by Derek it was suggested that Welsh speakers here could provide guidance as the translation work moves forward.

Issues impacting on effective Quality Assurance procedures are being addressed through an involvement with a TACIS project with a number of European partners. Whilst Derek met with those working on the Mabinogian project, I had the opportunity to meet Professor Irma Grdzelidze, Head of Quality Assurance, to learn more and consider any possible opportunities for future collaboration. Of particular interest was that of Peer Review as an evaluative tool for both staff and students and the importance of CPD to bring about an attitudinal change.

Our meeting with Rector Giorgi Gavtadze proved very fruitful as we learnt that there is a heightened interest in the development of inclusive practice and in the positive support of those with special educational needs. Very recently the Rector had received a government directive highlighting the role of universities in promoting this approach. This fitted in very well with a proposal from the Course Director of MA Creative Therapies in Education (Music), University of South Wales, that one or two students could join ATSU for a certain length of time and carry out a placement in an appropriate organisation in Kutaisi.

This potential for collaboration was further enhanced by the involvement by Professor Nino Nijaradze, Head of the English Language Department, who arranged for me to visit a centre for children with special educational needs entitled `First Step Georgia, Every Child is Special`. This is an NGO run by a psychologist who has introduced a range of inclusive practices for both children and their parents. There is considerable enthusiasm for the student placement to take place at this centre and discussions will continue with the psychologist through e-mail and at meetings with the MA course team at the USW.

A visit to Kutaisi would not be complete without a visit to the English Language Centre led by Professor Madonna Megrelishvili. On this occasion we heard presentations from the Executive Director of the International Centre for Caucasus Tourism, Marina Metreveli and also the Dean of the Agrarian Faculty, Professor Ketevan Kintsurashvili, about the need to promote Georgia as a centre for tourism. Much debate ensued with Kote Charkhalashvili, Head of Tourism in Imereti, keen to highlight the many strengths of the Imereti region.

One particularly heartwarming experience was our visit to the Kutaisi Botanical Gardens, firstly to enjoy the Gardens themselves and secondly to attend a concert for pensioners. We weren’t quite sure if we constituted the pensioners or if there were others of similar age attending! It transpired that there were a group of Kutaisi pensioners who lived nearby and they joined us in the audience for the concert. However when the pre-booked choir failed to turn up, they took to the stage and entertained us with music, recitations and songs. The whole experience was extremely moving and one which neither Derek nor I will forget.

Manana Karkashadze’s school has undergone considerable restoration work using natural materials and provides an interesting and creative environment for those children who attend. It was interesting for us to view all the recent developments which have taken place since our last visit. A visit to School No 9, arranged by Madlen Giorgadze, enabled us to reinforce the existing link between this school and St Mary’s School, Newport.

Throughout our four day stay in Kutaisi we experienced a wealth of hospitality in the Georgian tradition from our many friends. Special thanks must be given to Zaza & Tamriko and David & Manana who kindly invited us into their homes. The kindness, warmth and generosity extended to us was truly outstanding. Didi didi madloba! Rosemary, Derek, I, and indeed all NKTA members, believe it’s a huge privilege to have such a wealth of longstanding friendships lasting over so many years.

Madonna leads our friends as they prepare to wave us goodbye!

Madonna leads our friends as they prepare to wave us goodbye!

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Tbilisi Flood Appeal

IMG_2107 2IMG_2103Sonia Fisher and Caroline McLachlan attended a charity concert and auction held on Monday 13th July at the Mansion House, Bristol organised by Bristol Tbilisi Association.

CJ0benXWoAEr4DcBoth the Georgian Ambassador and Romanian Ambassador were present. The Bristol Georgian Choir gave a wonderful concert followed by an auction to help raise funds for the Tbilisi Flood Appeal.

The Lord Mayor of Bristol, the Right Honorable Cllr. Claire Campion-Smith received a donation

collected by NKTA members and friends from Sonia Fisher.

The Georgian Ambassador expressed his thanks to all members who donated to the appeal fund and supporting Bristol Tbilisi Association in cooperation with the British Embassy in Tbilisi.

Together with NKTA ‘s contribution of £575 a total of £2,500 was raised.

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Return visit to St Mary’s Primary School, Newport

Chair, Sonia Fisher and Vice Chair, Derek Butler visited St Mary’s Primary School, Newport on Thursday 25th June.

For Sonia it was a return visit having enjoyed hugely their recent presentation on ‘Kutaisi, it’s People and it’s Culture’. This had followed on from NKTA member, Catherine Philpott having given several presentations on the background of the twinning links between Kutaisi and Newport earlier in the year.

Having recently visited Kutaisi, Derek had brought back greetings and gifts from School No 9 who is most interested in wanting to form friendship links with St Mary’s through emailing and Skype. This may even lead pupils from both schools to becoming pen friends.
A photograph of School No 9 was presented to St Mary’s and Sonia gave various souvenirs of Kutaisi to the school for their display table together with a DVD of the City of Kutaisi.

St Marys 7 St Marys 3

 

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Newport Civic Centre – Georgian showcase

photo A display of Georgian artifacts, many of them gifts, shown recently in the foyer of the Newport Civic Centre. They were kindly loaned by Sonia Fisher and Derek Butler.

 

 

 

It was an eye-catching exhibition drawing the attention of both visitors and Civic staff.

 

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All Things Georgian – St Mary’s School Newport

South Wales Argus Grassroots Report 

St Mary’s School, Newport – Thursday 13th February 2015
For the second time All Things Georgian came to St Mary’s school, Newport. There was an end of project performance in front of an audience of members of the Newport Kutaisi Twinning Association. Year 4 told the story of how Kutaisi, a city situated in the independent state of Georgia in Eastern Europe, found itself twinned, over 25 years ago, with the City of Newport.

The children described Georgia, where it was on the map, the life and customs of the people that live there and the fabulous legendary tales that are part of Georgia’s rich literary culture.

Kutaisi, an ancient city, famous as a seat of learning, was the focal point of the children’s

study. An ancient Georgian tale of knights and fabled animals was recited with all the actions.  The presentation ended dramatically with music and dance. The boys leapt and twirled, the girls gliding across the floor emulating the country’s traditional dance. By the end of the project every one has learnt ‘Gamajoba’ and ‘Didimadloba’!!

kutaisi-on-face     Red Hat-2

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A presentation of a commemorative certificate by Chair Sonia Fisher to staff Emma Wilkinson (R) and Suzanne Koetser (L).

Red Hat-7 Red Hat-18

 

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Kutaisi Newport International Association

 Latest news for January 2015

kutaisi

We are pleased to receive the first newsletter of the year from

Kutaisi Newport International Association

See: http://knia.ge/articles/2015/newsletter2015jan.html

 

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Vitali Donghvani Graduation September 2014

Vitali Donghvani 2012-13

At the University of South Wales, Vitali Donghvani studied for an M.Sc degree in Computing Science with a dissertation on ‘Long range remote control system using Microcontroller’.

He produced a high voltage-controlling device, which can be used domestically. Users will be able to plug in a domestic device such as an electrical heater, boiler, refrigerator, lights or home security systems and have control of them via their phones, tablets or computers through the internet. They will be able to manipulate their home devices either at will or to have them activated by being programmed in by time and date.

He gained good marks with his dissertation – A14 and plans to continue his studies with a suitable and appropriate PhD course at another university.

1 2 3          Photos: Graduation Autumn 2014

 

 

 

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