Denis Robinson column: Memories of school’s letter of thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev
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Gorbachev presided over the unprecedented opening up of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, forging arms reduction deals with the United States and partnerships with Western powers to tear down the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe since World War Two.
His reforms also brought about the reunification of Germany.
The then-Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, formed a close relationship with Gorbachev, famously describing him as 'a man I can do business with'.
Languages are my thing and I studied Russian up to A-level standard at Clarendon College in Nottingham.
Latterly, I attended a well-supported Russian conversation class at Nottingham's Mechanics Institute but this was discontinued because of the pandemic and has not been revived.
Because of the key part he played in bringing an end to the Cold War, Gorbachev was regarded as a hero in the West.
This led to Bulwell's Rufford Junior School deciding to send him a letter to thank him for what he had done to achieve world peace.
The school contacted the Dispatch to see if we would like to publish a report about this special initiative.
The letter was to be written by the children in English but I thought it might be a good idea to start it in Russian and the school was in agreement with the suggestion.
Calling at the school, I was invited into a classroom and, after explaining to the youngsters what I was trying to do, I wrote the Russian for 'Dear Mr Gorbachev' on the blackboard for the children to copy.
This was 'Dorogoi Gospodeen Gorbachev' and I used the Russian Cyrillic script.
There was a bemused look on the faces of some of the pupils but I think they understood the goodwill aim of addressing Gorbachev in his own language.
I don't know if the school got a reply to the letter or even if it reached its destination.
It would be hard to imagine the same enthusiasm for sending such a letter to the current Russian leader, Vladimir Putin.
But who knows? Maybe a heartfelt message from some children could help persuade him to bring an end to the devastating war in Ukraine.
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