“Horsham groups such as the Horsham Twinning Association play a vital part in the social life of our town “ said Cllr. Brian O’Connell, Chairman of Horsham District Council.
He was addressing the AGM of the HTA in a packed Park Barn last Friday in his role as the association’s President.
“Our society depends on the activities of voluntary clubs, organisations and institutions,” he continued, “ we are all conscious of the debt we owe to the many who give up their time and energy to work for others. Twinning is one of those and it has an impressive impact .”
Cllr. O’Connell mentioned in particular the Schools’ Language Competition, an annual event where the Twinning Association invites the schools of Horsham to participate in producing videos and essays in French and German. Spanish has been added recently, and there is keen competition for what is seen as practical and relevant use of language skills.
The Chairman of the Association, Oliver Farley added “ For twenty-five successful years we have promoted social, scholarly and sporting connections with our twin towns in St.-Maixent-l’Ecole (France) and Lage (Germany).
“Visits continue between our towns and many friendships have developed over the years -- indeed two visits are pending right now. Sporting exchanges involve the rugby and tennis clubs and the up-coming visits engage the choirs of both hosts and guests.
“We are keenly aware too of the challenges facing young people today and hope we can nudge them a little in the right direction through language skills and understanding of other countries”.
On a less onerous note, he remarked that HTA had appealed to it’s youngest audience yet last month -- the infants of Trafalgar school! The Twinning has donated several colourful books in French and German for them to try out. It is hoped the story of the hungry caterpillar will be as enthralling in French as in our own tongue.
As in every group, finance -- or the lack of it -- plays a big role. This is the case even more so in 2015 with the HTA expecting two visits in close succession from France and Germany. Understandably, Treasurer Dennis Saunders was highly delighted when Cllr. O’Connel promised a donation out of his Chairman’s Budget to ease the continuing financial burden a little.
In the interval Cllr. O’Connel posed with the lucky winners of the raffle for a photo shoot, where the first prize was a £ 100 dining voucher.
A fine spread of mainly Continental food with a glass or two of good wine sped the audience through the break. The final part of the evening was in many ways its highlight: Frank Pattison, a retired German teacher from Christ’s Hospital, gave a half-hour talk entitled ‘The Cross and the Crown’ The Crown was the well-known emblem of the Holy Roman Emperor, while the cross had a special relevance for British listeners. It was the Coventry Cross, fashioned from the long medieval nails from the roof of Coventry’s bombed cathedral. Several of these crosses have been donated to grateful towns across Germany, a symbol of remembrance and a token of reconciliation. Bright illustrations of numerous famous towns and cities reminded every one of the riches promoted by the friendship of twinning.
“Brilliant and entertaining evening. A winning format for a successful AGM “. So said many of the members as the evening drew to a close.
The HTA is open to all. If you are interested in our activities or of becoming a member email the social secretary Janet Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org
Report by Gaby Lothian. Picture by John Medway.