THIS Summer Spanish students celebrated their 20th anniversary of coming to Bridport to study English. EXECOM, Executive Communication, the organisation in charge of bringing Spanish students to stay with local host families, started the language program in 1995.

Managing director Lourdes Otalora decided to settle in Bridport when her friend Bella Blanchard started collaborating with her and suggested the town as 'the place to start'.

Lourdes said: "We only had 14 students on our first trip and we have had up to 63 aged between 10 and 18 years old.

"At the beginning there were no classes but now we teach in the Women’s Institute and we do others such as football, theatre and journalism."

Nowadays Lourdes, a member of EXECOM in Bilbao and Martyn Pape from Bridport, are in charge of organising the program, which starts being planned after Christmas.

Mr Pape has been responsible for searching for, interviewing and visiting potential families for the last couple of years.

People from Bridport and the surrounding areas act as hosts to the Spanish pupils.

Tracey Smith from Bridport has been hosting Spanish students for the last 10 years.

She said: "Families have to be welcoming and should appreciate that it is a different experience, and that can be very rewarding as well as giving the opportunity to get to know another culture.

"They should prepare themselves to integrate another person into their family. It is essential that you match the right student to the right family, it helps if both parties have similar habits and hobbies, this is important when finding the most suitable home for a student and ensuring their stay is a positive time for all involved."

Spanish teacher Jon Salsamendi, who helps the students write articles for the News, said: " Apart from the sociocultural aspects, the Spanish group contributes to a surge in the local economy.

"They visit and spend their pocket money in the shops and commerce in town like Costa Coffee, Waitrose, W Frost and other businesses alike.

"Thanks to EXECOM the local community of Bridport becomes a nexus between two different cultures once a year."