ARTICLES 
Mary Draycott Is the Newest Citizen of Haskovo
Standard Daily, 04th November 2005

For over 10 centuries the town of Haskovo in southern Bulgaria has been like a bridge between Europe and the Orient. The town boasting 1000-year-long history is the first Bulgarian settlement whose name is entered in the Guinness Book of Records. The world's highest statue of the Mother of God is towering over it. Haskovo is also a symbol of ethnic and religious tolerance. There are two "pinnacles" in it - the nimbus of Virgin Mary and the minaret of the one of the oldest mosques in the Balkans.
Leicester lies some 3000 km away from Haskovo (southern Bulgaria), but it turns out that the two towns are not so distant from each other. "We are bound by a sincere friendship which makes us feel as if we were relatives," Mary Draycott says.
She is the Lord Mayor of the British town, which is often called "the gem of Middle England". Draycott is Haskovo's newest citizen. "It's a great honour to me to be part of this region. I feel proud and happy," said Mary Draycott at the awarding ceremony at which she became an Honorary Citizen of Haskovo.
Mrs. Draycott added that she had expected with excitement to see the City of Virgin Mary which became famous all over the world. Draycott was conferred the title because of her great contribution to the cooperation between the twinned towns.
The relationship between Haskovo and Leicester was established some 4 years ago at a meeting between present district governor Maritza Raina Yovcheva and Mary Draycott in her capacity of adviser in the Leicester Municipal Council. A year later the mayor of the Bulgarian municipality visited Leicester. "Georgi Ivanov had wonderful ideas about the development of Haskovo, but he needed examples and courage to implement his plans," his counterpart from the British town said.
The results from the cooperation were immediate. The British firemen donated their Haskovo colleagues with trucks and other technical equipment which turned the fire brigade of the Bulgarian town into the most contemporary unit of that kind in our country. New appliances and disposables were donated to the local hospital, too. By the end of the year the Haskovo municipality together with its British partners will build 50 single family houses for socially disadvantaged families in Republika and Badema residential districts.

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