The Go Rwanda Friendship Group, made up of volunteers from the community, aims to ensure that the legacy of the Pre-Games Training Camp stretches far beyond 2012 with educationional, cultural and sporting links and its fundraising appeal Sport for Rwanda.
Find out how you can get involved.
"Although our athletes did not win a medal at the Games, we did in fact get a gold medal from the Olympics by having the friendship of the people of Bury St Edmunds."
The High Commissioner of Rwanda Williams Nkurunziza speaking on Rwanda Friendship Day 2013.
Undoubtedly, the enduring legacy between the people of Bury St Edmunds and Rwanda will be friendship and a commitment to further understand one another's countries, traditions and people.
The people of Bury St Edmunds quite literally took the Rwandan Olynpic and Paralympic teams and members of the Rwandan High Commission into their homes and their hearts in 2012.
This legacy continues with Bury St Edmunds declaring that 7 July should be Rwanda Friendship Day to mark and celebrate the day that the Rwandan Olympic Team arrived in the town and the day we witnessed history in the making with the arrival of the Olympic torch relay. In 2013, Rwanda Friendship Day was celebrated at a Sung Eucharist service at St Edmundsbury Cathedral.
"Although our athletes did not win a medal at the Games, we did in fact get a gold medal from the Olympics by having the friendship of the people of Bury St Edmunds." - the High Commissioner of Rwanda Williams Nkurunziza speaking on Rwanda Friendship Day 2013.
Six schools in the Bury St Edmunds area are now twinned with schools in Rwanda.
GS Mukoma (linked to Risby CEVC Primary),
Ngwino Nawe Village (linked to Riverwalk Special School),
ES St Francois Shangi (Edith Uwimbabazi) (linked to Horringer Court Middle School),
EAV Ntendezi (linked to Thurston Upper)
GS Gisakura (linked to St Edmundsbury CEVA Primary)
Mururu School (linked to King Edward VI School)
Many of the schools have introduced Rwanda into their curriculum topics such as conflict resolution, human rights, creative thinking and sustainable development of societies.
At King Edward VI School, children of varying ages have worked together with Rwandan students using email and video sharing on projects ranging from sport, dance and music to art, poetry and the study of business and politics. They also hold an annual Sport for Rwanda Olympics-style sports festival at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre to raise money for the appeal and encourage sport and physical activity among students.
Students have also learnt about Rwandan culture and tradition through bead making, Rwandan dance, and a competition run by specialist fashion studio Elizabeth Mullholland in Hatter Street to design a Rwandan / British hybrid dress.
In sport, links with athletes and sports groups in St Edmundsbury and Rwanda are being built by Abbeycroft Leisure (which hosted the Pre-Games Training Camp), particularly in Olympic and Paralympic sports.
The Rwandan Olympic and Paralympic athletes trained alongside clubs in St Edmundsbury in the summer of 2012 include the St Edmunds Pacers (above) and the West Suffolk Swimming Club. The Rwandan Sitting Volleyball Team also played a friendly before the Games against Team GB at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre, watched by excited local residents who cheered for both sides.
Rwandan communities living in the UK were invited to Bury St Edmunds to see where their athletes will be training and to take part in sporting events and a successful Rwandan community football match took place in the summer of 2011.
Culture and the Arts
Cultural events throughout 2012 took place to celebrate the history and culture of Rwanda and the Olympic and Paralympic Games include Churchgate Showcase's Big Dance and the unveiling of a Rwandan garden and mural in the Abbey Gardens.
The Rwandan High Commission and the Rwandan Olympic and Paralympic athletes visited Suffolk's Lap of Honour exhibition at Moyse's Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds. The exhibition showcased the experiences of people involved in the county's Olympic and Paralympic heritage since the 1948 London Games.
A replica traditional Rwandan hut was made by the staff at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village and Country Park and was on display during 2012.
The Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal gave the Rwandan Olympic and Paralympic teams a warm welcome for a farewell traditional British tea party before they went to London to compete.
Pin Badges To Go On Sale
Commemorative pins celebrating the Bury St Edmunds Pre-Games Training Camp and the Go Rwanda project will soon be on sale priced £5.
They will be available from Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre, Bury St Edmunds Tourist Information Centre, Moyse’s Hall Museum, West Stow, Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal, Greene King Visitors’ Centre and St Edmundsbury Cathedral.
All proceeds will go to training equipment for the Rwandan Olympic and Paralympic athletes.