Coronavirus: can you help Slovenia?

The Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Slovenes Abroad has sent a letter asking for any help we can offer to Slovenia in the the present Coronavirus pandemic. The letter says Slovenia has taken all necessary measures but wishes to prepare for all possible scenarios, particularly if the situation worsens.

Specifically it asks for additional knowledge and human resources. The Office asks anybody who has knowledge in medical and other areas relevant to the present situation (protection of public health, economy, social services etc.) to help, even if only with advice from a distance or exchange of opinions.

The Office also asks for information where to obtain or buy medical equipment to protect healthy people and improve treatment of those infected by Coronavirus.

Anyone who could provide help, opinions or information is kindly asked to contact urad.slovenci@gov.si.

Letter in Slovene

The Oxford Kozolec Has Gone – Long Live the New Kozolec!


A few days ago, Oxford’s Pitt Rivers ethnological museum pulled down the traditional Slovene hayrack (kozolec) at the Oxford Arboretum, and put the pieces into storage. The Arboretum requires the space where it stood for a new development. The museum, which owns the artefact, has told the British-Slovene Society it has no alternative location and intends to “deaccession” it. In practice that means we will not see it again: for some years it had been falling into disrepair and cannot practically be put together again.

It is a sad end for a traditional Slovene construction brought to Britain at the time of Slovenia’s independence in an initiative led by BSS Trustee Jana Valenčič.

However the good news is that a new kozolec is to be erected on the outskirts of Henley-on-Thames. Henley’s Town Council has agreed to locate it on a “Town Green” which belongs to the Council. Thanks to a generous benefactor in Slovenia, Miro Senica, the British-Slovene Society will be able to fund its construction by a specialised artisan in Slovenia.

The new location is apt, since Henley is twinned with Bled in Slovenia. Preparations will start once the present lockdowns have been eased.

This summer we regrettably will not be able to hold the British-Slovene Society’s annual picnic. We hope to resume once the new kozolec is in place.

Meanwhile here are two dates to reserve looking ahead:

11th December 2020: Annual BSS Carol Service in the church of St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe in London.
6th February 2021: Annual Prešeren Evening in the Ambassadors Hotel, Bloomsbury, London.

Plans are obviously subject to Covid-19 developments.

Keep well everybody!

Picture below: new kozolec location in Henley

Picture below: new kozolec location in Henley

BSS Prešeren Evening 2020 – strengthening friendship at a sensitive time


Staged on 1st February, one day after Brexit, this year’s annual British-Slovene Society Prešeren Evening in London was a moving demonstration of our common will to preserve and strengthen our friendship, come what may.

Shirlie Roden sang “Slovenia” – composed as a tribute to the country where she has been performing over the past 20 years. The Sedbergh Singers from Cumbria rendered the traditional Slovene folk songs which they have mastered over the years.


Finally we were treated to an inspiring performance by two of Slovenia’s top musicians, Boštjan Gombač and Saša Olenjuk. Boštjan transfixed us with his virtuoso music-making on an amazing array of instruments – including a metal saw and his own head – backed up by Saša on the guitar.

“I love London. I can breathe here,“ enthused Boštjan afterwards. So maybe we’ll want him back to breathe some more!


The tombola run with great verve by Catherine King raised a record £603 for Barka, the charity we support in Slovenia for people with special needs.

The two main prizes, a set of Elan skis and bindings, and two nights for a couple at Kranjska Gora donated by the Slovenian Tourist Board, were presented by Ambassador Tadej Rupelj, attending our Prešeren Evening for the last time. He and his family are returning to Slovenia after six years later this year.

Once again the Slovenian Embassy generously supported this year’s event. Thank you Tadej! We will miss you. We are also grateful for grants from the Slovenian Government’s Office for Slovenes Abroad, and the Ministries of Culture and Foreign Affairs.

The Prešeren Evening goes from strength to strength. Never have the good relations it fosters been more important. Thank you to all of you for bringing such good feelings and lively spirits at this sensitive time.

Comments by participants:
– A lovely evening. Boštjan and Saša’s performance was absolutely wonderful. So surprising and hugely entertaining. – Deborah Field
– Wonderful to be there with you all – the best event yet – David Burbidge
– One of the most enjoyable Prešeren Dinners that I have attended – Michael Chant
– It was a beautifully organised event and we enjoyed it thoroughly – Nav & Kristina

Book now for the British-Slovene Society Prešeren Evening

Saturday 1st February 2020. Drinks from 6.30 pm, dinner at 7.20 pm.

Ambassadors Bloomsbury Hotel, 12 Upper Woburn Place, London WC1H 0HX (undergrounds Euston, Euston Square, King’s Cross, Russell Square)

After our traditional dinner, the high point of the evening will be a performance by two outstanding musicians from Slovenia, Boštjan Gombač and Saša Olenjuk. More about the performers below.

Rates are:

Paid up members £47, non-members £64, students and under-18s £29.
For that you will enjoy a drinks reception, a three-course dinner with wine, the concert and a tombola with all sorts of attractive prizes.

Reserve your places now using the Application Form. Space is limited, so it’s first come, first serve.

You should assume that paid-for places have been reserved unless you hear to the contrary. No tickets will be issued.

If you wish to make up your own party, please nominate a host who will book the table in his/her name. Please advise if you have any dietary requirements.

We are grateful to the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in London for donating Slovenian wine for the occasion and to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for granting the British-Slovene Society a subsidy.

2020 Prešeren Evening application form

Boštjan Gombač is a performer and composer of music played on a multitude of different instruments. Trained as a clarinettist, he plays not only on wind instruments but also on musical saws and sound-producing objects rarely seen in concerts.

“The sound itself is my guide and inspiration. The more unusual the sound, the greater the challenge, expressive possibilities, and joy it provides,” says Boštjan.

As a member of the acclaimed Terra Folk group Boštjan won BBC Radio 3’s World Music Award. Currently he performs with groups such as Katalena, Bast, Bachology Quartet, Los Hermanos Muy Simpaticos and Sounds of Slovenia.

Saša Olenjuk is violinist and concert master at the National Maribor Theatre’s Opera and Symphony Orchestra.

As a recording artist, he has also featured as a guitar player, music arranger and producer in over 120 recordings of various musical styles. He performs with many different musical ensembles in Slovenia and abroad.