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The Official Opening was a judicious combination of ceremony and informality. The plaque to commemorate the Opening was unveiled by Dr. Renato Corsetti, the President of the World Esperanto Association; and the ribbon was cut by Councillor Ellis Bevan, the Lord Mayor of the City of Stoke-on-Trent. Dr. Corsetti stressed the importance of the Esperanto Movement in the UK and his genuine pleasure that a new and exciting phase had now begun for the Association. The Lord Mayor mentioned the long Esperanto tradition in Stoke-on-Trent, especially because of the late Horace Barks who had also been a Lord Mayor; and expressed his hope that many other organisations would migrate from London to North Staffordshire! The occasion was honoured by the attendance of Dr. Komorowski, the Polish Ambassador, representing the home land of Dr. L.L. Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto. In his speech the Ambassador alluded to the continuing relevance of Zamenhof's vision for the contemporary world, and to his pride concerning the association of such a remarkable man with Poland.
Other speakers included Dr. Derek Tatton, the College Principal, who stressed the College's commitment to language studies and his desire for close co-operation with the Association; David Bisset, Vice President of EAB, who paid tribute to William Auld, Dr. Marjorie Boulton and Montagu Butler; Nigel Rigby Chief Education Officer of Stoke City Council who indicated that the new partnership showed once again the progressiveness of Wedgwood Memorial College, and Edmund Grimley Evans, the President of EAB, who adroitly summarised the history of EAB and declared that the move to Barlaston represented the re-launch of Esperanto in the UK.
As the honoured guests walked through the entrance of Esperanto House, David Kelso the Director of Development, briefed the assembled multitude concerning choices and practicalities; and TV, journalists and photographers continued their search for images and copy, adding to the buzz of an exhilarating experience. Three trees were planted after the Opening Ceremony by the Scottish Esperanto Association, the Esperanto Association of Ireland and young students of Esperanto from Skipley. They are located in the newly created Esperanto Garden, unique in Britain, in which is also located the famous Esperanto Star Sculpture.
A sumptuous buffet was provided by the College catering staff; and everyone had the opportunity of visiting the new Office, the Butler Library, the Arboretum, the Esperanto Garden, and exhibitions about the College's future plans and the heritage of EAB. After the stirring events of the afternoon large numbers of participants and members of the local community attended a concert provided in the adjacent Parish Church by the Staffordshire Youth Recorder and Renaissance Ensemble, brilliantly (and wittily) directed by Terence Carter, to celebrate the Opening. It was a delightful occasion which demonstrated the variety and charm of period music on period instruments and the immense musical talent in Staffordshire. An additional attraction was the resplendent costumes worn by the young musicians.
And so, appropriately, the international language of music festively celebrated the new HQ for the International Language Esperanto at Wedgwood Memorial College!
There is a definite buzz within British Esperanto circles - and far beyond Britain - as the Official Opening of the new Esperanto HQ draws ever nearer.
The date is Tuesday 17th September; the time is 2PM; the place is Wedgwood Memorial College, Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent.
It has been a long haul since the Esperanto Association of Britain vacated its famous London HQ three years ago; but the result of that bold decision will be apparent to all who participate the Opening Ceremony.
The Association now possesses a skilfully converted and extended former coach house on the campus of Wedgwood Memorial College. There is accommodation for Office, Butler Library and three bedrooms named after famous Esperanto-speakers. In addition, there is the only Esperanto Garden in the UK.
Participants in the ceremony will include: the Polish Ambassador, the Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, the World Esperanto President, the college Principal, and President and Vice President of the Esperanto Association.
One hundred invited guests from the Esperanto world, education, public bodies and the Barlaston community will attend the ceremony.
A ambitious Esperanto cultural event will run for three days round about the Official Opening.
The partnership between the Association and Wedgwood Memorial College provides many positive opportunities for the days to come; and the conviction that the move signifies the re-launch of Esperanto in the UK is a rational assertion not baseless hyperbole.
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