A PARTNERSHIP between Malvern and the Czech Spa Town of Mariánské Lázně (Marienbad) has celebrated its tenth anniversary.
The occasion also coincided with the accreditation of the famous Czech Spa as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ian Hopwood, who has been the chairman of the Malvern Community Partnership since its formation in 2012, said the accolade was richly deserved.
“The Partnership is aware of the long and tortuous acceptance process for accreditation and it is a tribute to our Czech colleagues their Spa history of over 200 years is recognised in this way.”
First contact with Mariánské Lázně was made by partnership member Laurie Gregory who unfurled a banner which read: ‘Love and kisses from England’ during the turmoil of the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Prague’s Wenceslas Square.
Laurie organised successful visits of the local Czech Youth Orchestra in 1990 and 1991.
During the last decade, regular visits to the Czech Republic have afforded Malvern visitors the opportunity of visiting the associated towns of Bad Homburg and Weiden in der Oberpfalz in Germany, and Montecatini Terme in Italy.
Regular contact is made with French, Israeli, Russian and American visitors at the annual opening of the Spa Season held in May each year in Mariánské Lázně.
The Partnership has provided the impetus to support many events including the notable and highly successful visit by the Canzona Children’s Choir and recorder quartet from the Fredryk Chopin Music School in 2015 to Malvern. These are due to be followed in 2023 by the town’s 30-strong Fontana Choir visit to Malvern.
A 2014 charity drive to the Skoda factory in Mlada Boleslav CZ via Mariánské Lázně in a brand-new Skoda Rapid supplied by Startins accompanied by a 1966 Skoda 1000MB raised a considerable sum for Acorns Children’s Hospice. The trip ‘created creating much interest on the German Autobahn and turning heads across the Czech Republic’.
In 2018 a 6ft Worcester Black Pear Tree was taken to Mariánské Lázně. The ‘Friendship Tree’ was planted to commemorate 200 years of the Czech Spa tradition. To the surprise of the Malvern visitors, a glass Black Pear Tree in a Bohemian crystal bottle was presented in return by Czech Mayor Martin Kalina.
This official gift forms part of a display in Malvern Library, along with books and other items celebrating the last ten years.
Malvern’s Worcester Black Pear Tree thrives to this day in Skalnik Park, having survived harsh winters and hot summers – something the partnership views as ‘a good omen for the future’.
Ian added: “Malvern came late to an official partnership with an overseas town but we’ve more than made up for lost time.
“We fund our own visits privately even though we carry the flag for Malvern.”
Talks are ongoing to form an alliance with Weiden in Germany and with Kiryat Motzkin an Israeli partner Town of Mariánské Lázně.
Discussions started before the pandemic and will resume shortly.
Ian and his wife Janet have visited Landrecies, a town in Northern France which has a connection with Malvern stretching back to the First World War when the two towns were involved in reconstruction after the war damage to the French town.
Landrecies retains many visible links to Malvern and honours the memory of British soldiers in a moving annual ceremony.
Email Mark Young at [email protected] for more information about the partnership.