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The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award: a Slovene winner

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, founded in 1956 by the late Prince Philip, is credited as one of his greatest achievements. When he died last week, many Britons remembered how the scheme empowered them as youngsters to build skills, confidence and resilience. But who knows that the Awards are also hugely popular abroad – not least in Slovenia?

Živa Alif is a Slovene who entered when she was still at high school in Ljubljana. She completed her Silver and Golden Awards just before gaining admission to the University of Oxford, where she graduated in Biology. She always liked hiking and camping, so she eagerly tackled tests of physical endurance which took her on arduous camping expeditions – three in Slovenia (picture below) and one in Finland.

“Walking 20 km and climbing 1,000 m in altitude for four days in a row carrying a 20 kg backpack is never an easy task. But the feeling when you reach the end is absolutely fantastic, as there is a true feeling of victory. In addition, you become more grateful for small things. Like a shower. After four days of hiking at 30C with no option to clean yourself whatsoever, a shower feels more refreshing than ever. Besides that, the expeditions are where countless new memories and friendships are formed.”

Music and gymnastics gained her further qualifications, but her other favourite part of the Award programme was the Residential project, for which she went to a camp for nature conservation volunteers in Austria.

“Spending 10 days with a group of 12 people from all across Europe was a memorable experience, as we became like a family in this time. It was a cultural eye-opener for me, as you learn so much about other people’s countries in a friendly and open environment. Being forced to communicate only in English also greatly boosted my confidence in my language skills. And lastly, that’s where I met my best friend, who has been standing by my side every day for the last five years despite being hundreds of kilometres away.”

Her conclusion:

“The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is an excellent programme, as it makes young people leave their comfort zone to meet new people, get new experiences and ultimately expand their horizons in real life.”

Živa (second right in picture below) with other Slovene participants:

Catch up with our Prešeren Evening on YouTube

Over a 100 people took part in this year’s Prešeren Evening of the British-Slovene Society, held for the first time on Zoom rather than in a hotel in London. Shirlie Roden, Zoran Predin, Aleksander Mežek, The Lakeland Voices, the Plamen Choir from Canada and Vlado Kreslin treated us to a brilliant concert of music and song.

Vid Kocijan, John Dawton and Barbara Predin presented and recited Prešeren’s poetry. Andrej Rozman Roza gave us an amusing satirical sketch poking fun at Slovenes’ stingy attitudes towards culture.

A collection was taken for the Barka charity supporting people with special needs in Slovenia.

If you missed the event, which took place on 13th February, you can catch up on the YouTube link below:

Prešeren Evening online on Saturday 13th February at 1800 UK time, 1900 Slovenian time

Dear Members and Friends,

Don’t miss the British-Slovene Society’s online Prešeren Evening on Saturday 13th February! At 1800 UK time, 1900 Slovenian time.

This year, no cocktails, dinner and mixing in a London hotel. We’ll be online on Zoom, and we’re making the most of it!  We’ve lined up an array of Slovenia’s finest popular singers and moving recitals of Prešeren’s poems (one sung by our own Shirlie Roden).

Plus two great choirs. One from Sedbergh in Cumbria, twinned with Zreče in Slovenia. The other is group of Slovene singers from Canada.

After the performance, we’ll have Zoom »chat rooms« on which you can socialise with friends old and new.

Here’s the Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 278 435 7597
Passcode: Preseren21

Here is the link on YouTube where you can view the event:

The chat rooms will only operate on Zoom.

Don’t forget: Saturday, 13th February at 1800 UK time, 1900 Slovenian time, 1300 Canadian time. Thanks to Zoom, you can join in from anywhere!

You can take part for free. If you wish, you’ll be able to make a charity donation through this link, which will also be displayed during the event. The proceeds will be equally divided between the Barka charity we support and our Society



Slovenia’s Day of Culture

As published earlier, the British-Slovene Society will celebrate France Prešeren on 13th February 2021 with a performance of poems and songs online. The Zoom link will follow shortly.

The Slovenian Embassy in London is meanwhile also celebrating the Slovene national poet and Slovenia’s Day of Culture on 8th February.

See the invitation from the Slovenian Embassy below:

To mark Prešeren Day, celebrating Slovenian culture on the 8th of February, the Slovenian Embassy in London kindly invites you to the screening of four short films as part of a special programme curated by Slovenian Film Center: What would say F.P? 

Films will be made available to the public globally on 8th of February 2021
between 1 am – 12pm GMT at the following LINK

All films will feature English subtitles
The following short films will be screened:

The Bull (Bik), directed by Bojan Labovič (2019)
After the Hunt (Lovka), directed by Urška Djukić (2019)
Made in Slovenia, directed by Miran Zupanič (2007)
Che Sara, directed by this year’s winner of the Prešeren Fund Matjaž Ivanišin (2002)

You can further explore the richly diverse cultural programme made available online by cultural institutions in Slovenia in celebration of Prešeren Day, details of which are available HERE

Please note that the programme is primarily in Slovene language.

220 years of Prešeren and 30 years of Slovenia

Reserve time at 6pm on Saturday 13th February for the British-Slovene Society’s special online Prešeren Evening. We are preparing an attractive programme of recitals and singing to mark the 220th anniversary of the poet’s birth. We will inform you of the link nearer the time.

Due to the Covid pandemic we will not be able to meet in person, and so we will produce our Prešeren Evening in the same way as the last Christmas Carol Service.  For those who could not attend that, here is the link to the recording on YouTube:  

The Christmas event caught the attention of the Slovene Radio Prvi channel which featured it on the evening of Christmas day: We collected £275 for the Barka charity we support in Slovenia.

Also, you may know that the traditional Slovene hayrack (kozolec) in Harcourt Arboretum has been dismantled but we are making arrangements for a new one to be set up in Henley-on-Thames. We hope to be able to celebrate 30 years of Slovenia’s independence around the new hayrack.

A letter from the Delegation of the European Union to the United Kingdom

Here is a letter we received from the Delegation of the European Union to the United Kingdom:

Dear Colleagues, Friends and Slovenian citizens at the British Slovene Society,

My name is Angela, writing to you from the European Union Delegation to the UK in London – a very Happy New Year to you.

You are well aware that as a result of Brexit, Slovenian citizens and their family members must apply for a new immigration status under the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme if they intend to continue to live in the UK. Failing to do so will result in these citizens not having an immigration status in the UK beyond 30 June 2021.

Vulnerable groups of citizens – such as the elderly, those with lower digital literacy and limited access to the online application process, children in care, those with lower levels of English, those who live in poverty and many more) – may not be aware that they need to take action and could find it more challenging to submit an application for the new status. Furthermore, in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic helping citizens through face-to-face contacts has become more difficult than ever.

In order to get information to those who need this the most the EU Delegation has published a series of information leaflets which are available here:

We understand that you may have had the capacity before Covid-19 to reach Slovenian citizens in the UK. In case you still can, we’d be grateful if you could share the above online publications through your channels.

Also, we’re translating all our publications to Slovenian and are also able to send print copies in bulk for free to a select number of organisations that may still be able to hand these out.

If you or your organisation / group would be interested receiving print copies could you please signal this by sending an e-mail to as soon as you can, providing the following information:

–        Your name, your organisation’s name, telephone number and delivery address

–        The type of leaflet you are interested in (currently the above 3 are available)

–        The EU languages in which you would like to receive these (by default we’d send English copies)

–        The number of copies that you’d want to receive (there are usually 200 copies in a box and we can only send these by the box. Each box will need to contain the same language copies – i.e. at this stage unfortunately we cannot mix languages in a single box)

Thank you for any help raising awareness amongst Slovenian citizens and their family members.

With best wishes,



Angela Mammarella

Citizens’ Rights Support Agent

Delegation of the European Union to the United Kingdom


Office: 32 Smith Square, London SW1P 3EU

Phone: +44 (0)20 7973 1933


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