Twinning link celebrates 50 years

editorial image

PLANS are underway for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the twinning link between North Lanarkshire (Motherwell) and Schweinfurt in Germany.

The Friends of Schweinfurt Twinning Association are planning a Burgerreise visit (a visit by citizens) to the twin town in July this year to coincide with an official visit by the Council when there will be, among other things, a music festival in the market square in front of the Schweinfurt town hall.

The Burgereisse will leave on July 12 travelling from Edinburgh airport to Frankfurt and then by coach to Schweinfurt where accommodation will be in the Panorama Hotel.

Apart from the official activities associated with the 50th anniversary, the group will also have some day trips to places of interest and will be guests of the Oberburgermeister at a civic reception as well as meeting up with the members of the Friends of North Lanarkshire Twinning Association.

The cost of the trip is not yet confirmed but is likely to be around £650, which takes into account a grant from the Council for such trips. The cost includes flights, hotel with breakfast, one main meal per day, cost of outings and transport to and from Edinburgh and Frankfurt airports.

There will be a supplement for people requiring a single room.

This is an opportunity for people to visit Schweinfurt and experience the friendship of the people there, and for others to revisit the twin town Schweinfurt and see the changes since the twinning first began.

Anyone who may be interested should contact Helen Russell, telephone 01501 823560.

This will not be a commitment at present; deposits will be required only when the full details of programme and cost are confirmed.

Town Twinning was the brainchild of the British Council just after the Second World War. It was seen a means of preserving the peace of Europe and fostering goodwill

among the nations of Europe.

The search for a twin town for what was then the Burgh of Motherwell and Wishaw was undertaken by the International Union of Local Authorities. Schweinfurt was identified as a possible link.

The two towns made a good match. North Lanarkshire and Schweinfurt are similar in environment, working life and culture. Motherwell was, of course, the centre of the steel-making industry in Scotland; Schweinfurt is the centre of the ball-bearing industry in Germany.

The twin link has three distinct levels of activity.

There are the official visits by the two councils; school and club exchanges played a large part in the promotion of the twinning link and these visits often gave young people their first experience of travelling to another country; sport also produced a fair number of exchanges for friendly but competitive events and a team from Schweinfurt took part in the International Children’s Games in Lanarkshire last year.

From these activities, individual links have grown out of visits. There have even been a couple of weddings!

Another dimension was brought to exchange visits in 1991 when the first Burgerreise visit was organised. It had been pointed out that if you weren’t a school pupil, or played sport, or a councillor, there was no way of being part of a group to visit Schweinfurt. So the Burgerreise was born and there have been many over the years.

There were doubts over keeping twinning partnerships active during a period of change in local government in Scotland and in Germany.

But the enthusiasts from Schweinfurt and Motherwell District established twinning associations and the twinning link is as strong as ever.

The link is based on peace, friendship and understanding, which is recognised in the twinning stones which were placed outside Motherwell Civic Centre 25 years ago.