We are a group who seek to promote international friendship and understanding.

We meet together regularly for social events and fundraising and take part in exchange visits with similar groups from our twin cities and partner towns abroad.

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News

CAIF ANNUAL REPORT 2018 -2019

MAY

The Annual General Meeting took place on May 17 in the Council House. Our guest of honour, this year, was Ruth Longoni, who spoke of her work with the Lord Mayor's Peace Committee. 

JUNE

We took part in our second Community Information Fair organised by Positive Images. Linda has been attending their Meetings 

 

CAIF FRIENDSHIP PRIZE 2017-2018

We announced an annual prize for young people in September 2017. The Friendship prize was offered to harness the energy, creativity and initiative of Coventry's children, youth and young adults in promoting a culture of international friendship, understanding and peace and also aims to inspire others to learn from young people and to think about how each of us can make a difference in the world.

The theme of the competition was the “Culture of International Friendship, Understanding and Peace”.  

Entries were invited to address this subject and to show how to involve young people in activities that bring together people of different nationalities, races and cultures, so as to promote international friendship.

The prize was open to anyone up to 25 years old (as of 31 August 2017) in one of three age categories:- Child (aged up to 14), Youth (aged 15 – 18) and Young Adult (aged 19 – 25).

Entrants were invited to submit an entry in the form of an essay of between 500-1000 words, a poem, a photographic essay, a moving image or a musical composition.

Prize Awards will be made in each category –

1st Prize: Certificate, prize of £250

2nd Prize: Certificate, prize of £150

3rd Prize: Certificate, prize of £100

On Monday 11 June 2018, the Lord Mayor, Councillor John Blundell presented certificates and cash prizes to students and pupils from Coventry University, Bablake School and King Henry V111 School.

Several members of CAIF travelled to Bath to meet up with long time friends from Kiel,who are spending a few days in Bath and Bristol. Four of the Kielers came to Coventry to meet old friends Allan Trickett and John Moore.

AUGUST

Eight members of CAIF went on a week  long visit to our friendship town of Meschede in Sauerland, Germany.

Along with a group of our Breton friends, we celebrated the Meschede group's 50 years of International Friendship. 

We visited monasteries, museums and factories and enjoyed several social occasions with plenty of food and good German beer.

A wonderful  week that strengthened our links with both Meschede and Vannes.

OCTOBER

We supported, along with the Queen's Road Baptist Church, the Coventry German Circle, who hosted 12 visitors from our twin city of Dresden from 6-10 October.  CAIF members helped to host visitors and joined them on their tours  and our member, Clive Benfield,  sponsored a meal out for the group at Bella Italia. The Lord Mayor welcomed them and they were given a tour of The Council House, St Mary’s Guildhall and the Cathedral.

DECEMBER

Senza Nome, along with their Musical Director and CAIF member, Joanna Kunda and the Nightingales Choir, set up by Pat Trickett over 30 years ago, held a concert in St Andrews Church, Eastern Green as a wonderful tribute to the memory of Pat.

19 CAIF members enjoyed Christmas meal at The Roseycombe Pub in Binley Woods.

JANUARY

Members of CAIF and The Coventry Rotary Club along with Coventry City Councillors, notably Councillor John Mutton, enjoyed a presentation by Olga Alyona Lawson to celebrate the 75 Years of twinning between Volgograd and Coventry. A video link was briefly established between The Youth International Friendship Club and teachers from Gymnasium No 5 in Volgograd and our group that morning.

Senza Nome (affiliated to CAIF) celebrated their 10thAnniversary with a wonderful concert at the Polish Church and a Celebration at Coventry Connexion attended by CAIF members and the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress.

FEBRUARY

It was the 74th Anniversary of the bombing of Dresden and this year is the 60th Anniversary of the twinning of Coventry with Dresden. 

Two of our Artist friends, John Yeadon and Lisa Gunn opened their exhibition in Dresden on 12 February.  “Condition humaine” presented works by artists from Coventry and Dresden as part of the Coventry- Dresden Arts Exchange. Its themes were on human vulnerability, struggle and resilience - qualities Coventry and Dresden share. The Lord Mayors of both cities were present and gave addresses. We are proud to have been supported the artist Lisa Gunn, who is disabled, with a donation of £200 to help with her overland travel to Dresden as part of the Coventry-Dresden Arts Exchange. This exhibition will be shown in Coventry in June 2019.  There will also be a concert with the Coventry Spires Choir and on a Choir from Dresden (Neuer Chor) on June 1st.

CAIF members attended an Islamic Exhibition and seminar on the Indian Army’s contribution in The First World War in Binley Woods Village Hall. It was organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association 

MARCH

CAIF members attended a concert celebrating International Women’s Day in St Mary’s Hall. There were inspiring speeches by Women’s Rights Activist, Mattie Heaven and Businesswoman, Fleur Sexton. Followed by beautiful classical Persian music from the Soveida Ensemble.

Our member, Rabee al Hafidh, Secretary of the Mosul Foundation was interviewed on Turkish Television about the tragic state of his home city of Mosul. He refers to cities like Coventry, Dresden and Volgograd that have rebuilt themselves after devastation.

APRIL

CAIF FRIENDSHIP PRIZE 2018-2019

The Lord Mayor, Councillor John Blundell, presented Certificates and cash awards to this year’s prizewinners. This year’s theme was “My Peace Hero” and entries included tributes to parents, friends and Alan Turing. Members of CAIF attended along with Councillor Ram Lakha and proud parents and families.

14 CAIF members enjoyed a meal at The Roseycombe Pub and were interviewed on film for a short Video to be sent to our friends in Dresden for Europeday on May 9.

ACTION PLAN AND TARGETS ACHIEVED

  • The Friendship Prize has given us a reason to raise our profile with a younger audience with the result of some active involvement.
  • The visitors from Dresden have strengthened our links both with them and the other existing links in Coventry. The Coventry German Circle, The Coventry-Dresden Arts Exchange, The Queen’s Road Baptist Church.
  • We have made interesting links with the Mosul Foundation and the Ahmyidda Elders.
  • Our link with Positive Images has continued to raise both our awareness and our knowledge of other like-minded groups.
  • We are pleased to have attracted 6 new members this year and of varying cultural backgrounds.
  • Continued to update the Web Page caif.co.uk and our Facebook Page caif@caifers>

AIMS FOR 2019

 • A review of our Action Plan and set targets for the future year. • We have booked a stall for the Community Information Fair on July 3. • In June 9 CAIF members are to meet a group from Kiel, led by Magda, in Hamburg, then Leipzig and then Kiel.. • 18 visitors from Vannes are coming to London and Coventry from12-19 August. 4 members will meet them in London and accommodation has been arranged in an LSE Hall of Residence. They will stay with hosts in Coventry from 14-19 August. • During the year, we will attend events that commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the twinning between Volgograd and Coventry. Starting with the The Twin Cities Conference at The Russian Cultural Centre in London on April 26th. • In October a dance group from Volgograd will perform in the Albany Theatre. We have been asked to approach schools and dance groups in Coventry with a view to perform on that date and for future exchanges.Linda has put them in contact with Cardinal Newman School and the Sayhadri Colours of India group. • Following a request from Rhys Davies of Cardinal Newman School , Linda has given him contact details of individuals or organisations who may help him to forge pupil links with some of our twin cities.

Linda Hirons (CAIF Secretary).

 

We celebrate 75 years of twinning with Volgograd this year and 35 years after I went with a group from Sidney Stringer School to perform “The Little Match Girl”, I make a presentation in the Russian Cultural Centre, Kensington, London.

(Photos in Gallery)

 

Dave and Pru (Lady Godiva) met Aleksandra Joksimovic, Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia, who was visiting Coventry along with Mr. Vladimir Disovic, Deputy Head of Mission and Mr. Veljko Jelenkovic, Third Secretary on Friday 10th May. They were with Slavica, who organised this tour of The Herbert Art Gallery with a special viewing of a painting of Belgrade by Milorad BataMihailovic.

(See Gallery for photos)

Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. It is a pleasure to welcome you all to the Council House and to the prizegiving ceremony for the Coventry Association for International Friendship‘s Young People’s Friendship Competition. We are very proud of the CAIF and of the amazing work it does in spreading our city’s message of peace and unity around the world. It works with our twin cities and others to promote understanding and build links. And, of course, it does so much here in Coventry as well, helping to make sure everyone – including our city’s young people - can get involved. The annual Friendship Prize is an important part of that work. This year, young people aged from 14-20 were invited to send in poems on the subject of ‘My Peace Hero’. I understand there were many great entries, and the judges have had a very tough time. So congratulations to our four winners, you should be very proud. You were obviously inspired by your peace heroes and I am sure they would be delighted to know they have been honoured through your work. And congratulations also to everyone involved in the competition and all those who submitted poems. We are very proud of our work as a city of peace and reconciliation, and your words are helping to reinforce that message and encouraging others to play their part. One of the great pleasures of being Lord Mayor is being able to host events such as this. In Coventry, we are fortunate to have so many caring and hard-working young people who help to make our city a better place. There are lots of positive stories around young people in Coventry and the wonderful things they achieve. They are a vital part of the life of our city and so important to our future. They deserve to be celebrated and that is why events like this are so important. Thank you again for coming today and for your support for the competition and for the Coventry Association for International Friendship. And thank you to the Association for all it does throughout the year. It has been a part of our city now for over half a century and has strengthened ties with cities such as Kiel, Dresden, Volgograd and many more. Those ties help businesses and education, community groups, politicians, artists and athletes, and they make the world a safer, friendlier place. And as UK City of Culture 2021, what better way to celebrate and further that work than through the art of poetry! The Friendship prize brings together two very important parts of our city so beautifully. My very best wishes to you all for the future and it is now my pleasure to present our winners with their certificates and prizes.

SEE GALLERY FOR PHOTOS

The following obituary was written by David Woodhead, a close friend of Alan's and a trustee of the Dresden Trust from 2005 - 2017

Dr Alan Russell, OBE, MA, DPhil 1932–2019 Founder of The Dresden Trust

Alan Russell was not a natural demonstrator. Street protest was for other people. Yet in June 1992 this hitherto undemonstrative former European civil servant engaged in a silent protest and held a banner in the presence of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
The apparently innocuous occasion was her unveiling of a statue outside the Royal Air Force church of St Clement Danes in London’s Strand. But the statue was of the late Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris – known as “Bomber” Harris because of his World War II predilection for flattening old German towns and their civilian populations.
Russell and others stood under a banner declaring that the annihilation of Dresden (and similar civilian centres) had not been a justifiable act of war. Moreover, they believed a statue of an unknown airman (rather than a provocative one of the controversial Harris) would have been a more appropriate memorial to the Bomber Command crews who died.
Russell recalled how, 40 years earlier, he had faced the moral and strategic arguments over the fate of eastern Germany’s renowned cultural centre. While doing his National Service in the Rhineland, he discussed war and German war guilt with a local student friend, Gunter Lafere. The latter acknowledged the criminality of the Nazi regime but posed a question of his own: what about Dresden? That question and the answer would in due course have profound significance for a large part of Russell’s life.
Indeed, more than a quarter of his life was to be deeply affected by an event in Dresden on 12 February 1990, when a group of prominent Dresden citizens issued an appeal – the Ruf aus Dresden – calling for “worldwide action to rebuild Dresden’s Frauenkirche as a Christian centre for the promotion of peace in the new Europe … a uniquely important architectural wonder that would once again complete one of Europe’s most beautiful city panoramas”.
Russell knew this required a response from the UK. The result was the founding in 1993, by a small group led by Russell, of The Dresden Trust, even before his first visit to Dresden. That took place a year later and he was captivated by the city. It was suggested by a group of Dresdeners on that occasion that the Trust might contribute to the Frauenkirche project by creating the golden orb and cross which would surmount the dome of the rebuilt church.
Ten years later the objective was achieved, the Trust having raised within the UK the equivalent of 1.5 million euros for the purpose. And so, one of the glories of baroque Dresden was recreated and, with it, the iconic city skyline. To add special piquancy, the London goldsmith in charge of crafting the orb and cross was the son of a Bomber Command pilot involved in the air raids on Dresden – which his father forever regretted.
The Trust itself continued to flourish under Russell’s inspirational leadership and a succession of able, committed and imaginative fellow trustees with a range of skills and expertise, as well as royal patronage (HRH The Duke of Kent became its royal patron at an early stage). Its activities have embraced educational, cultural, environmental and humanitarian initiatives and activities similarly dedicated to the cause of Anglo-German reconciliation in general and restoring the historic connections between the UK, the city of Dresden and the state of Saxony in particular.
As a result, it has largely achieved its goal of post-war reconciliation. Whereas Britons were treated with mistrust and hostility in Dresden for many years after the war, today they are welcomed as friends with shared human values.
Russell gave a strong impression that his life until the early 1990s had been a preparation for the years that followed and that these were the years that gave him most fulfilment, in which he found limitless sources of energy, for organisation, fundraising and prolific writing. Indeed, he became an ‘honorary Dresdener’ who felt as much at home in his apartment in Dresden’s beautiful Neustadt as in his homes in Oxford and then Chichester (which he named, of course, ‘Dresden House’).
Alan Keith Russell, born in London on 22 October 1932, was educated at Ardingly College in Sussex and Lincoln College, Oxford, where he graduated in Economics and Political Science; later in his career he was a Fellow of the college. He took his DPhil at Nuffield College. He served in the Colonial Office, Ministry of Overseas Development and Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 1959-69 and 1972-75, with a spell at the Civil Service College between those dates. He had three periods as a senior official of the European Commission (1976-79, 1981-86 and 1988-89), as well as serving for two years as Director of the Inter-University Council for Higher Education Overseas after his first spell in Brussels.
In 1959 he married Philippa Stoneham (now Dame Philippa Russell, a leading expert in learning disabilities and, from 2007 until 2015, Chair of the Prime Minister’s Standing Commission on Carers) and they had two sons and a daughter.
Dr Russell was appointed OBE in 2000, for services to Anglo-German relations, and was awarded the City of Dresden Medal of Honour and the Erich Kästner Prize in 2006. He twice received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, in 1997 and 2006.
He wrote and contributed to many publications about Dresden and the historic relationship between Great Britain and Saxony, including Dresden: A City Reborn (1999),Why Dresden? (2000), Firestorm: The Bombing of Dresden 1945 (2006), After the Berlin Wall (2009) and A Trust for Our Times: The Story of The Dresden Trust, a comprehensive account of the development of the Trust and its achievements, which was published in 2015.
He also produced studies on Mauritius, the Liberal general election landslide of 1906, Edwardian radicalism and a collection of poems. His interest in rebuilding, conservation, town planning and civic improvement led him to take a Certificate in Architectural History and a Diploma in Historic Conservation at Oxford Brookes University in the late 1990s; he had firm views on the rebuilding of Dresden, not least as a Dresden resident.
Alan Russell himself wrote of Dresden that it had been “an architectural and artistic powerhouse in the 18th century, an intellectual and industrial leader in the 19th century and a musical giant throughout these years. Dresden is now a striking amalgam of all of these. Its 21st century vocation is surely to become a crucible for reconciliation and peace within the European Union and beyond”. His principal legacy is to have made a notable contribution to the fulfilment of that vocation.

Dr Alan Russell, who died on 6 February 2019 aged 86, was Chairman of The Dresden Trust from 1993 until 2013 and then Hon. President.
He was succeeded as Chairman by Mrs Eveline Eaton.