Plans for what we are now calling our ‘Alkmaar 70’ celebration year (from September 2016 to August 2017) are now well underway.  This September the 1st will mark 70 years since the first trip to Alkmaar by Bath schoolchildren, completing the circle of friendship which began with a visit to Bath by children from Alkmaar in December 1945/January 1946.  Here’s an update on what’s been happening…

Launch event: March the 10th 2016
We kicked off the planning stage with a civic reception in the Mayor’s Parlour, hosted by our Mayor, Councillor William Sandry, to which we invited a wide variety of local organisations, to test their interest in getting involved.  The response from those attending has been very positive: it is reassuring to know that the story of how the two cities first came to be linked can still move and inspire people.

Programme coming together
We are still finalising details of the programme, but the good news is we hope to see included a range of activities, including existing groups, who are planning something a little special, and new groups, keen to explore the opportunities our Alkmaar link offers.

As well as plenty of interest from sports teams, we are also talking in detail to community groups, artists, educators, festival organisers, musicians and businesspeople.  We are optimistic that our celebration year will help deepen and broaden our valuable links, and not just in 2016-2017, but into the future too: there have been many creative ideas developed in the last couple of months, and even if they don’t all come to fruition in the next year, they have given us plenty to think about – and become excited about – for the future.

Primary Schools initiative
One activity which is definitely happening is our effort to take the Alkmaar origins story to Bath’s children, through their history lessons.  Many Year 6 classes study the Second World War, and its impact on Bath, giving us an ideal opportunity.  We trialed just such a presentation to 60 pupils of Widcombe Junior School on March the 21st, which went down very well: we’d welcome the opportunity to take the story to all our schools. 

Supporting that effort, we are developing some downloadable material for teachers, including images of the originators of the Bath – Alkmaar link, Eli Prins, Freddie Wills and ‘Burgemeester’ Van Kinschot.  See the RESOURCES-HOME page for more details.
If you know of a school which might like a visit from us, please let us know.

Tulips for Schools Project
Building on our communication with schoolchildren, we are working with the Rotary Club of Bath on an initiative to offer all Primary Schools in Bath a large bag of tulip bulbs, free of charge, to plant this Autumn so they will flower in Spring.  Our counterparts in Alkmaar, the ‘Alkmaars Uitwisseling Comité (AUC)’, have kindly offered to supply the bulbs.

If it’s Spring again…
We hope to be bringing not tulips from Amsterdam, as the old song goes, but tulips from Alkmaar to Bath – and not just into Primary Schools.  We are liaising with ‘Bath in Bloom’ who are talking to the BaNES Parks department about putting on a tulip display in Bath’s parks, including Victoria Park and the Orange Grove near the Guildhall, next Spring.   We hope a little bit of Bath ‘tulip-mania’ will help raise the profile of our link across the City.

News of the Barrel Organ
Supporters will know about the legendary ‘Alkmaar Barrel organ’, a key element in the original fund-raising efforts undertaken in Bath in 1945.  The barrel organ was presented to Alkmaar and now resides in the City Hall.  We wondered how this venerable old musical instrument was faring: and our friends in the AUC have confirmed, having gone to check, that it can still play music, albeit rather out of tune: not surprising given it was something of a Museum piece even in 1945!  We are thinking about ways we can involve the instrument in our celebrations: watch this space.