REPORT ON THE ESSEX AND SUFFOLK TWINNING CONGRESS held at Great Waltham on Saturday, 13th October.
This was my first visit to this Congress and I was very interested to find out how other Twinning Societies operated. I had not realized that each Twinning Society was supposed to talk about their association – oops!
Firstly we had a presentation from Great Waltham. They have an amazing number of activities – boules competitions, Tug of War, a Horticultural Society, Open Gardens, build a scarecrow competition, music festival, village show, a fun run for 2 or 5 miles, a Christmas tree festival and a Victorian market. I assume the village ran these activities rather than the Twinning Society, but there was obviously a close link between the two.
Mary Dunk put on a very good PowerPoint presentation for Sudbury. She suggested you ask the question ‘What do you want to get out of a Twinning Association?’ It was obvious that they got a lot. They are twinned with Clermont and Fredensborg in Denmark. Interestingly children are also involved and by staying in hostels with their teachers it are possible to bypass the health and safety rules, which have been such a deterrent to exchanges. Football and handball teams have participated in the exchanges as well. The Stour Valley Singers performed in Denmark with the Sletten Sangkor. (Note Nigel Hildreth had a Sixth Form orchestra in Wetzlar for the Hessentag and the Weinfest – THEY stayed at a Youth Hostel).
Adult Sports Clubs were also in contact with each other.
It is good idea to get students to contribute to the newsletters. Adults appeared to be staying with families.
Schools were also members of the Twinning Association. Staff were able to make contact with staff from their Twin Towns. I think they participated in the Comenius Erasmus Programme. Unfortunately this finishes next year so we have missed a trick.
With a budget of nearly €7 billion for 2007 to 2013, the programme funds a range of actions including exchanges, study visits and networking activities. Projects are intended not only for individual students and learners, but also for teachers, trainers and all others involved in education and training.
There are four sub-programmes which fund projects at different levels of education and training:
Danbury produces a printed card with their meetings for the year. They have a fixed day in each month. Another interesting idea is that an adult relative goes with each child to stay with families. One town had schools Skyping pupils in their twin town school.
As far as I could gather the Twinning Towns attending the conference all stayed with families. There seemed to be a wide variety of fund raising and other activities – talks, art exhibitions, quizzes (some with a fixed topic, music, films etc.), raffles for a Christmas hamper, raffle for free trip to France, boules tournaments, dinners etc. One twin town even brought over cyclists.
Witham had a sub-committee for each Twin Town. Rayne hold a joint committee meeting either in the UK or France each year. One of these towns had also managed to get a £500 donation from their local Co-op. In return they have sold Fair Trade products in the market? of their Twin Town.
The Congress have a new website. It is still under construction. In theory we should then be able exchange ideas, access their websites via links etc.
It was a very positive experience attended by people who were obviously very keen on the Twinning Experience. It also highlighted our weaknesses. We MUST get schools involved and it is sad that we no longer have Twinning Visits where we stay with families. However it also sounded as if we had more members than some of the other Twin Towns.