Click to go to the home page

Home >> The Beginning >> Diary of Events Archive 1989-2013

Kutaisi Newport International Twinning Visit To Newport 
6 September 12 September 2010





On MONDAY 6 September 2010 a delegation from Kutaisi lead by Deputy Governor of the Imereti Region, Grigol Shushania and the Chair of the Kutaisi Newport International Twinning Association, Professor Madonna Megrelishvili with Giorgi Tsurtsumia as interpreter, arrived in Newport to begin a week long visit that was to see the opening of KUTAISI WALK, a river path running along the banks of the River Usk in Newport. 

They were warmly welcomed to Wales and to Newport by Chair Sonia Fisher and many members of the Newport Kutaisi Twinning Association.

The Georgian visitors experience ROMAN CAERLEON
To begin the visit Mr Grigol Shushania and Professor Madonna Megrelishvili accompanied by Giorgi Tsurtsumia made a tour of Roman Caerleon.

Their guide, Caerleon Civic Society’s chair and NKTA member, Liz Luck together with Olive Young & Mike Singleton took them to the Ffrwwm Arts Centre to see the sculpture garden and to meet with Dr Russell Rhys who had travelled to Kutaisi many years ago. Here Madonna stayed whilst Grigol Shushania and Giorgi Tsurtsumia went on to see the Roman Baths where they wondered at the water effects that helps to bring the atmosphere of the Baths alive, to the amphitheatre and barracks, dating from 75 AD and Caerleon’s museum where they enjoyed, with their great Georgian sense of humour, dressing as soldiers in full Roman armour.

Whilst walking around the amphitheatre, the Millennium gardens and the medieval streets they were told of Caerleon’s links with The Mabinogian, King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, Lord Alfred Tennyson and Arthur Machen. They learnt that every year theatre companies use the ancient amphitheatre to provide backdrops to many of William Shakespeare plays.

Leaving Caerleon the delegation travelled with Rosemary Butler to Newport to have lunch with members of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce.

Tea with the Dean of Monmouth at Newport Cathedral

The afternoon found the delegation visiting the St Woolos, Newport Cathedral with NKTA member Brian Cox where they were greeted at the west door by the Dean of Monmouth, who gave them a tour of the building explaining, as he went, its religious and historical significance. The Dean took Grigol Shushania to the top of the tower from where it is possible to see across the Bristol Channel to the Somerset coast and in the opposite direction to the Brecon Beacons National Park. Also it gives an opportunity to get a bird's-eye view of the sights of Newport. Tea was taken in the St Mary Chapel

The Opening of KUTAISI WALK, - a new landmark for Newport.            
It was the occasion members of both Newport Kutaisi Twinning Association and Kutaisi Newport International Association had waited so long for and nothing disappointed.   The sun shone on Newport and the warm friendship between the people of the two cities was evident throughout. The event began with the arrival of Sonia and NKTA members, at the Riverfront Arts Centre, followed by the Georgian delegation. 

The Association was delighted with the arrival of the Mayor of Kutaisi, Mr. George Tevdoradze, and the Deputy Georgian Ambassador, Mr. Beka Dvali, who were able to attend the occasion. Madonna, Grigol Shushania and Giorgi Tsurtsumia then arrived to see the Mayor of Newport, Cllr Bill Langsford and Mayor George Tevdoradze in their capacity of Joint Presidents of NKTA formally open Kutaisi Walk.
Everyone gathered around the plaque that commemorates in three languages, Georgian, Welsh and English, which celebrates twenty years of twinning. Speeches of congratulation and friendship were made by both Mayors and presentation of flowers to Rosemary Butler, first chair of NKTA, and Professor Madonna Megrelishvili to acknowledge their hard work and unfailing commitment to the twinning throughout the twenty years.

There then followed a stroll down Kutaisi Walk before many cameras with smiles and handshakes as new friendships formed and old ones were renewed.  People, standing around the twinning mosaic, reminisced about all the visits, events and exchanges that have taken place over the years. 

The guests attended the Mayor’s Parlour for lunch where there were exchanges of gifts and further speeches, strengthening the ties that bind the two cities.

Tea with members

Later in the afternoon Madonna met informally with many members of NKTA for tea given by NKTA secretary Vera Brown.

Visit to Newport Wastesavers - To see how the City copes with its waste.

Following the opening and lunch George Tevdoradze and Grigol Shushania visited Wastesavers Recycling plant accompanied by Cllr David Mayer. The Chief Executive Officer, Penny Williams and Recycling Manager, Ian Simms greeted the group and conducted them around the plant.    The company handles all Newport's recycling that is sorted at the kerbside and sold on to various companies. They also deal with household food waste that is composted for use in gardening and agriculture.

Carole Fereday, the Schools Education Manager, showed them the comprehensive teaching rooms at the site. She explained how important it was to educate the young people of the city so that they would become natural recyclers when they grew older. Penny explained that WasteSavers had already been part of a bid between Kutaisi Local Democracy Agency, the Newport City Council and Monfalcone City Council (Italy) to fund a similar education project in Georgia. It was hoped that another opportunity would arise in the future.
George Tevdoradze asked whether WasteSavers could advise his Kutaisi Council on the design of a recycling operation. Penny explained that the model used had been adopted by a number of different cities including one in Egypt and that they are always willing to participate in any future proposals.


Professor Madonna Megrelishvili visits University of Wales, Newport.            

Today Professor Madonna Megrelishvili attended the University of Wales, Newport's Awards Congregation 2010, with Caroline McLachlan of the University's School of Education and Rosemary Butler, an Honorary Fellow of the University.
The Awards Congregation on Thursday morning celebrated the success of graduates from the University's Newport Business School and the conferment of an Honorary Fellowship on Newport entrepreneur Shelim Hussain, MBE. Professor Megrelishvili also attended a reception and lunch hosted by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Peter Noyes, before meeting colleagues and friends in the University's Department of Education and Humanities.

The graduation ceremony can trace its roots back to the early European universities of the 12th century, and under University of Wales regulations, degrees and higher degrees are presented in the Welsh language. The ceremony included performances by the choir of Caerleon Comprehensive School and City of Newport Male Choir.
The University of Wales, Newport was delighted to share such a special occasion in the University calendar with our honoured guest from Kutaisi.

Grigol Shushania, George Tevdoradze and Giorgi Tsurtsumia accompanied by Sonia visited Mabey Bridge Ltd Chepstow Head Office. 

Peter Lyndsey Sales Director collected us from the Priory Hotel for the journey to the Headquarters of Mabey Bridges Ltd. We then were given a presentation about Mabey Bridge Ltd and quick to erect panel bridges for Georgia.

One of the interesting facts given was that that the firm always use local contractors headed by their representative who is based in Tbilisi. 
The entourage then moved to a viewing area underneath the Severn Bridge where some steel work had been undertaken by Mabey Bridges. This was a good photograph opportunity for the visitors who insisted on having their photograph taken with a local fisherman.

The next stop was the Lydney manufacturing facility where bridges for Georgia are made.

Much merriment ensued when we crossed the border and saw the ‘Welcome to England Sign’ I was able to reassure the visitors that they didn’t need their passports! They were highly amused with the English/Welsh banter coming from the Englishman and the Welsh lady. (I tried to explain the English/Welsh rivalry particularly in respect of International Rugby).

After a safety briefing we were asked to don protective clothing and then given a tour of the manufacturing facilities by the Quality Control Manager, Mark Ridgeway.  
We were shown vast numbers of bridge panels awaiting despatch to Pakistan where many bridges had been destroyed by the recent floods. Apparently paid for by the Canadian Government.

During the buffet lunch the Deputy Governor and the Mayor of Kutaisi said they had found this visit very interesting and they asked many pertinent questions.

After lunch we left Lydney and as we crossed the bridge back into Wales – the sun came out again! 

We arrived on the Corus site to visit Newport Galvanisers Ltd where again we had to put on protective clothing and helmets and goggles.  Not very flattering, but necessary.               

Following the tour of the factory we returned to the Priory amidst wonderful sunshine and had tea outside the hotel. David Megrelishvilli appeared with a copy of the Argus that featured a write up and picture of the Opening of Kutaisi Walk. Everyone wanted a copy – so David went back into Caerleon Post Office for more, the Postmistress wondering what on earth was going on.


Day Visit to London

With the exception of Madonna, none of the visitors had been to Britain previously.  Before their visit they asked for a London trip to be included in their programme and were clearly looking forward to it when they arrived.

They, together with Sonia, Derek Butler and David Megrelishvili, went by train and although the weather in Newport was awful it was dry and sunny in London.  They had an early lunch in a typically English pub and took a tourist bus trip round central London in the afternoon.  On the way to the pub they strolled through Trafalgar Square and took the opportunity to take many photographs.

Catching the tourist bus in Whitehall they went on a two-hour ride that took in most of the major sights including Whitehall, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower, Belgravia and Piccadilly Circus.  At the end of the tour Giorgi Tevdoradze, Giga Shushania and Giorgi Tsurtsumia opted for a trip on the London Eye and a stroll over the Millennium Bridge whilst Madonna was taken to London’s famous Harrods store for tea.

After a crowded train journey from Paddington to Newport the guests all agreed that they had enjoyed their first visit to London and would never forget it!

The delegation toured the City of Newport followed by a meeting with members of the Rotary Club 


Rugby match at Newport Rugby Club, Rodney Parade

George Tevdoradze, Grigol Shushania and Giorgi Tsurtsumia were given a very warm welcome by the Directors of the Newport Rugby Club Dennis Bennett and Mike Dams to the grounds of Newport Dragons – the city’s rugby team. The guests included Mayor and Mayoress of Newport, Cllr & Mrs Bill Langsford, Dr. John Davies and Derek.

The party were taken on a short tour of the club’s museum.  This resulted in a three disparate items, a Georgian dagger, a cut glass rugby ball and a ceramic trophy with Cyrillic lettering, all being identified as gifts presented by previous visitors from Kutaisi Rugby Club. They were told that the items would now be grouped together and re-labelled.

During the pre-match discussion George Tevdoradze and Grigol Shushania mentioned that a new rugby stadium will shortly be built in Kutaisi and that a match between the rugby clubs of the two cities would be an ideal way to open the new stadium, a proposal that was repeated before the Kutaisi delegation left for home.

The Georgians were welcomed over the loudspeakers and the crowd were given a short briefing on the state of rugby in Georgia.  Despite being told by the Directors that Newport was amongst the best teams in Wales/Europe/the World the team was 26 – 0 down approaching half time but recovered somewhat in the second half.

The Club officials could not have been more welcoming and the idea of a Newport – Kutaisi match sometime in the future is an exciting prospect!

Saturday Evening  


In the Langstone Suite of the Hilton hotel looking splendid with a Georgian and Welsh flag centrepiece on each table and large national flags on the wall, Sonia welcomed joint Presidents, the Mayor of Newport, Cllr Bill Langsford and the Mayor of Kutaisi, Giorgi Tevdoradze. She took the opportunity to thank everyone associated with the visit and to Newport City Council for it’s continued support.
The Mayor of Newport expressed his thanks and stated how much he had enjoyed meeting the visitors and attending the opening ceremony of Kutaisi Walk. The Mayor of Kutaisi responded saying that he too was pleased that he had been able to be present on this prestigious occasion. Madonna thanked the members of NKTA and guests for their welcome and stated that Kutaisi was honoured to have an area of Newport named after her home city. 

At the end of the meal NKTA member Russell Trevenen-Jones toasted the visitors in Georgian. Grigol Shushania replied on behalf of the delegation.

Giorgi Tevdoradze presented Derek Butler and Caroline McLachlan with certificates of their honorary citizenship of Kutaisi awarded to them earlier in the year in recognition of their activities within the Twinning Associations over the past 20 years.  They expressed their thanks for this honour. Caroline reminded us of some of her earlier experiences of twinning many years ago at the beginning of this link.

Sonia accepted on behalf of NKTA a certificate of congratulations from members of the Kutaisi Newport International Association commemorating the 20 years of dedication and hard work carried out by all members of the NKTA who have helped maintain the friendship between the two cities. There were more exchanges of gifts and certificates. Among those were from Newport’s Mayor to past Chairs of the NKTA, Rosemary Butler and Bernard Tyson in recognition of their work during their term of office. Another was received on behalf of Catherine Philpott who regretfully was unable to be present. Liz Luck presented the Mayor of Kutaisi with a painting done by herself of Kutaisi Walk. Giorgi Tevdoradze was absolutely delighted to receive this gift.

Kevin Barry, Deputy Chief Officer of the South Wales Fire and Rescue announced that on behalf of Lion Uniforms he had pleasure in presenting the Kutaisi Fire Service with 250 firemen’s uniforms.  A shop mannequin standing close by dramatically modelled an example of one of the uniforms. Giorgi Tevdoradze stated that the uniforms were very much needed in Kutaisi and thanked Kevin for his interest in the Kutaisi Fire Service and in particular the training he had offered to a delegation of firemen in 2008. He invited him to come to Kutaisi to see for himself the work of their Fire Service.

Peter Landers YMCA presented a sports bag of football kits for the youth of Kutaisi. Rosemary Butler was presented with an Honorary Membership of NKTA certificate in recognition of her continued commitment to Newport’s twinning agreement.

Rosemary was then asked to bring the formal proceedings to an end, but not before calling upon Sylvia Mason to present Sonia with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from NKTA to thank her for all her hard work in making this visit an unqualified success.

On a final and personal note Madonna was delighted to meet among all the members present, Mr and Mrs Mel Harris who have long been associated with NKTA. They had been part of the delegation from Newport who made the first visit to Kutaisi in 1995

Other occasions
Apart from evening events such as the restaurant for the welcoming meal and the final farewell dinner, where many members attended, the delegation was hosted on other occasions during the week by Rosemary & Derek Butler and by Colin & Sylvia Mason.

Roman Caerleon

The two Mayors open Kutaisi Walk

Kutaisi Walk towards the Castle

Visit to Mabey, Chepstow

Rosemary Butler AM with Newport's Mayoress, Sue Langsford and Chair of NKTA Sonia Fisher.

Kevin Barry presents the Firemens Uniforms

Farewell Dinner at Langstone