By Mary Fowler, Former Southmead Resident.
In 1948 a Sunday School teacher at Southmead Baptist Church suggested to her class of girls that they should write letters to a class in Germany. These letters were taken to a similar group in the Hamburg area and replies were duly received. In the following year, 1949, the then Minister at Southmead Baptist Church arranged to go to Hamburg to bring this group of children, and others, to Southmead. With the help of one of the Sunday School teachers they brought 17 children to Southmead to stay with families on the estate. They arrived on the 23rd March and stayed until 28th June.
From 1947 -2017 there has been 70 years of friendship between these two cities, with school exchanges taking place for many Bristol schoolchildren. These still continue today, all because of that first goodwill mission.
Ruth Myers, who ran the ‘Meadows to Meaders’ project, was so interested in hearing about this she wanted to include it in her next project, the story of the Bristol and Hannover link. This new project is called ‘In Someone Else’s Shoes’ as when it was agreed to link Bristol with Hannover it was found that many children in Hannover had no shoes to wear. Hannover had been virtually destroyed and the children of Bristol were encouraged to collect shoes which could be sent to the poverty-stricken children in Hannover. The School in Mina Road, Bristol, collected 100 pairs to be sent off.
The opening reception of ‘In Someone Else’s Shoes’ took place on Tuesday 30th January at
City Hall, with an opening address by Mayor Marvin Rees. Joan Clifford and myself were invited as we were part of that Sunday School class in Southmead, back in 1948, who had girls to stay with us. After corresponding for many years Joan lost touch with her friend, but I am still with mine 70 years on!
Find out more here.
Black and white picture above: Guests & pen-friends: middle row, 3rd from left Gretchen, Mary’s friend, 5th from left Brunhilde, Jeanne’s friend.