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Sheriff’s Diary

PUBLISHED: 13:35 08 April 2011

The Novi Sad Friendship Bridge

The Novi Sad Friendship Bridge

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

There’s an international flavour to Sheriff of Norwich Derek James’ diary this week...

I feel as if I visit three of our twin towns most days – I walk to work along Rouen Road and often come home along Koblenz Avenue via the Novi Sad Friendship Bridge.

But to be honest I never really knew much about what routine day-to-day life was like for our European twins – until this year.

It has been an honour to be at events to celebrate our links with Rouen in France and Koblenz in Germany and at the weekend I heard more about our friendship with the people of Novi Sad in Serbia.

While it is fairly easy for those of us who have never visited our twins of Rouen and Koblenz to image what life is like for the people there, it isn’t so easy when we think of conditions in Novi Sad. It has been caught up in turbulent times in recent years but the special relationship between Novi Sad and Norwich has been maintained and is stronger than ever.

I was a guest at the annual meeting of the Norfolk and Norwich Novi Sad Association at the weekend and it was fascinating to hear about this historic and beautiful city on the River Danube.

It was back in the summer of 1960 that the President of the People’s Committee of the Novi Sad Community wrote to the Lord Mayor suggesting a link be formed between a city known as the “Serbian Athens” and Norwich. Since that first handshake a relationship has been passed down from one generation to the next...one which has stood the test of time and one which has seen so many changes.

I would like to thank Peter and Diana Beckley, Doug Underwood and everyone else connected with the Novi Sad Association for all the wonderful work they do promoting and encouraging this important link – we can learn so much from each other.

I asked what Novi Sad was like and they said I would have to go and take a look for myself but Doug warned: “If you go, you will want to go back. It’s that kind of place.” It wasn’t until this year that I realised just how important twinning is. How much we can learn from each other – and how we need to get more young people involved.

For the past 20 years Connections has been awarding scholarships to young people studying in Serbia, many of whom live in Novi Sad, which has produced some outstanding musicians.

Among them are a classical violinist and pianist, Erne and Hilda Svan. You will get the opportunity to listen to them at a concert held in the Assembly House, Norwich, on Tuesday, June 28 at 7.30pm. Connections has organised it with help from the Norfolk and Norwich Novi Sad Association and the support of the John Jarrold Trust.

Tickets cost £12.50 and are available from the Theatre Royal box office on 01603 630000.

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