Ottery to mark 25 year relationship with Otari Japan

Members of Ottery and Otari meet to form a friendship 25 years ago,.

Members of Ottery and Otari meet to form a friendship 25 years ago,. - Credit: Archant

An Ottregian who is the British ambassador to Japan is asking residents of his home town to join in celebrations to mark 25 years of friendship with a similar-sounding settlement in the Far East.

Jill Courtney visiting Otari

Jill Courtney visiting Otari - Credit: Archant

Paul Madden, a former pupil at The King’s School, was appointed to the position in January and helped to instigate the link betwween Ottery and Otari in 1992.

The exchange began when an Otari resident, who saw Ottery’s famous Tar Barrels featured on a popular Japanese programme, contacted the British Embassy.

Mr Madden said: “By complete coincidence I, someone born and bred in Ottery, was working at the embassy at the time. My day job was working on economic and trade issues, but I was glad to be able to help bring the towns together.

“The thing that most drew us to Otari was the friendliness of the people we met there.

“Being British Ambassador to Japan is an honour and a pleasure. I have the opportunity to work with many people and organisations involved in the relationship between the two countries, from politicians to businesspeople, and scientists to artists. But I think links and friendship between ordinary people is really important alongside all the official relationships.”

As part of the friendship, councils from booth towns exchanged frienship bells. The Otari bell can be seen in the Sainsbury’s car park.

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Jill Courtney, who was Ottery’s tourism officer at the time, is hoping to encourage the community to ‘rekindle’ the relationship ahead of the anniversary.

The grandmother-of-two said: “It’s surprising how similar we are in our lives. Our likes, dislikes, things that make us happy and sad, family achievements, our pets, gardens, hobbies and just everyday living.”

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