Petr Čech was born in Plzeň where he started playing football at the age of 7 for Viktoria Plzeň, originally as a striker before becoming a goalkeeper. At the age of 17 he joined Chmel Blšany and debuted in the first league in a match against Sparta, who signed him less than two years later at the age of 18.
After he helped the Czech under 21s team win a gold medal at the European Championship in 2002, he moved to France to play for Rennes. In 2004, Rennes accepted a bid of £7 million from Chelsea for Čech’s move.
Petr spent 11 years playing for Chelsea, winning four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, one UEFA Champions League title, and one UEFA Europa League title. He holds the club’s all-time record for clean sheets with a total of 228.
In 2015, Čech transferred to Chelsea’s rival Arsenal for £10 million. He won another FA cup with Arsenal in 2017. On 29 May, he made the final appearance of his career in a match against his former club, Chelsea. After retiring from professional football, he returned to Chelsea as a technical and performance advisor.
Čech represented the Czech Republic on many occasions including World Cups and European Championships and he was the team’s captain. He is the most capped player of the Czech team with 124 caps.
He holds many records in the Premier League, including the most clean sheets in a season and also in Premier League history. He was voted the Best Goalkeeper several times and holds the record for the number of times he won the Czech Footballer of the Year and Czech Golden Ball awards.
Nadia and David Conway are a married couple living in London, who organise one of the most influential classical music festivals in the heart of Slovakia. Nadia was born in Czechoslovakia to a bilingual family and moved to the city of Poprad at the age of 8, where she lived until the age of 18. Emigrating to the UK at such a young age, Nadia pursued further education and a career in the public service, being active in the National Health Service, education sector and local government, achieving the status of Mayor of Enfield, settling down with her husband, David.
Due to the threat of imprisonment, Nadia was unable to return to Slovakia until 1989, sending her husband for regular visits to both of her parents, during which David fell in love with Levoča, a beautiful town with a fascinating history. In November 1989, Nadia’s father was in the hospital and thanks to the latest political changes she was finally able to return back home, to Slovakia. The first sentence that she has heard from the border officers was “Welcome home!”, a phrase she will never forget. The couple shares their experiences of communism, persecution and the emotional return back into Nadia’s homeland, elaborating on the hardships associated with losing loved ones and being unable to support their family from afar.
Dr Monika Gullerová is an associate professor in experimental pathology at the Wadham College, University of Oxford. After beginning her career in higher education with a degree from molecular biology at the Comenius University in Bratislava, Gullerová moved to Vienna to study for a doctorate and extend her research interests. She has joined prestigious labs from around the world, pursuing further studies at University of Oxford, Harvard Medical School, Kyoto University and Exeter College, receiving widespread acclaim for her contributions in the field, including the Women in Science UK award and the Goodwill Envoy award granted by the Slovak Minister of Foreign and European Affairs. Her success eventually culminated in establishing her own laboratory in the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in Oxford, funded by MRC’s Career Development Award. Most recently, Gullerová received a Senior Research Fellowship by Cancer Research UK, allowing her to further her research on DNA damage repair and its implications on cancer cells. Her contributions helped to pave the way of cancer research and medicine in general. Accrediting the majority of her success to the opportunities presented by the fall of the communist regime, she shares her experience of freedom and hope felt during November 1989, as well as the most distinct memory she has of the time, the ringing of the keys that has accompanied the demonstrations in Czecho-Slovakia.
Jana Kirschner is a renowned Slovak singer and songwriter, currently residing in London with her British husband, producer Eddie Stevens. Kirschner released her debut album titled Jana Kirschner in 1996. However, her second record, V cudzom meste, has catapulted her to fame and has made her a winner of four ZAI Awards, a Slávik award, and two Aurel Awards. Her albums Moruša Čierna and Moruša Biela have been crucial in the popularisation of Slovak folk music, introducing this aspect of culture to all generations.
Throughout her career, she has paid specific attention towards exploring contemporary social themes using her music, addressing current issues, believing that art should be used to express opinions and start discussions. Despite living in London, she attends all important occasions held in Slovakia, demonstrating her feelings for her homeland by using her inimitable music and lyrics. Dedicated to keeping the memory of the Velvet Revolution alive, she consistently performs at events commemorating this important milestone in Slovak history, including the 30th anniversary celebrations, raising awareness and educating the younger generations.
Pavel Klimov was born and raised in Moscow. He graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute in 1994 and then read law in Moscow and England and qualified as a Russian advocate in 1997 and as a English solicitor in 2001. In 1996 he came to London for training and work experience and since then he lives and works here as a lawyer. In his spare time he runs and studies languages, including Czech.
Jan Marek trained as a paediatric cardiologist in Prague, Houston, and Toronto. Since 1991 he has specialised in paediatric and prenatal echocardiography and contributed to establishing Echocardiography departments in Prague, Munich, and London. Among others, he also participated in developing a nationwide foetal cardiac screening programme in the Czech Republic. Between 1993 and 2005 he worked as a Director of the Echocardiography department and Centre of Prenatal Cardiology at the Children’s Cardiac Centre of the University Hospital Motol, Prague.
In 2005 he was appointed as a Lead Consultant in Echocardiography and later as Lead of Prenatal Cardiology at GOSH, as well as Senior Honorary Lecturer of the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, UCL, where he implemented all modern ECHO techniques including real-time 3DE, stress echocardiography and tissue deformation imaging, including dyssynchrony assessment.
He has successfully completed Professorship at Charles University, Prague. In 2014, he received recognition of his professorial title by the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences at UCL. He completed five grants as a principal investigator and published more than 150 peer review articles. He published one textbook as a monograph and contributed to several other books and teaching materials.
In 1989, he participated in the protests and was beaten and injured.
Elzbieta Smolenska is a journalist and photographer living in London. For many years she worked for BBC World Service in London covering political and cultural events among others the summit in Nice during which decision on the EU enlargment was made. She studied Polish Literature at Warsaw University. In 1988 she received GFPS-scholarships and studied in Munich. In 1989 she participated in ZDF television political debate to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of the WWII with Theo Waigel (then finance minister of Germany) and Hans Jochen Vogel (then leader of SPD).
Tereza Stehlíková works as an artist, filmmaker and a senior lecturer. She holds a PhDfrom the Royal College of Art, where she researched the tactile language of moving image. She is currently engaged in a cross-disciplinary research, investigating how moving image can be used to communicate embodied experience.
Stehlikova is a research coordinator at the Royal College of Art, animation department (also supervising PhD students) and a senior lecturer in still and moving image theory and practice, at the University of Westminster. She is a founder of Sensory Sites, an international collective based in London, generating collaborative exhibitions, installations and research projects that explore multi-sensory perception and bodily experience.
She also co-founded Artesian, a journal for committed creativity, featuring the writings of John Berger, Don DeLillo amongst many others. Stehlikova has presented her research at a number of international conferences and her films and performances have been shown at a variety of film and music festivals around the world, such as last year’s Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival.
She exhibited internationally, amongst these in London, Tokyo and Prague and most recently at Alchemy Film and Art Festival, in Hawick. Stehlikova just completed a large collaborative international art installation Blue Hour, which took place during Prague Quadrennial 2019 and is also developing a series of workshops focused on using our senses to create a more embodied understanding of abstract concepts, such as dark matter, with Dr Roberto Trotta (Astrophysics Department, Imperial College).
She is also continuing her work on her long-term artist film project, 4 Generations of Women (capturing the complex relationships between four generations of women in her own family), as well as Worm Wood, documenting a disappearing part of North West London. Finally, she is also involved in a collaborative artist project exploring embodiment in film and performance.
Students of Czech School Without Borders London
Isabella Kraft, Natalie Carter, Matyas Polensky, Miriam Quhali and Babetka Clark, volunteers at the Czech School Without Borders London, which they have completed in 2018 and 2019, live and study in London.
The Czech School Without Borders is a supplementary Saturday school providing regular education in the Czech language, history and geography to Czech-English bilingual children living in the UK.