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Tremendous twinning celebrations in Watton

PUBLISHED: 11:06 07 June 2012

Ulrich Francken presenting a picture to former Watton mayor Michael Wassell.

Ulrich Francken presenting a picture to former Watton mayor Michael Wassell.

Archant

Music, barn dancing and a trip to the seaside were enjoyed during a landmark twinning event in Watton.

The town has been linked with Weeze in Germany for 25 years and to mark the special occasion religious leaders, dignitaries and councillors from the town came to Norfolk for four days.

Organised by Watton Twinning Association, the event included a civic reception at Watton Sports and Social Centre, a church service at St Mary’s Church, performances from the Watton 864 Air Cadet band and the Weeze Tambercour Band and a visit to Wells.

Margaret Devine, chairman and secretary of Watton Twinning Association, said: “The 25 years of twinning has been great and we have learned such a lot culturally as well as making lasting friendships. The people of Weeze are just like an addition to the family. They are so interested in everything in Norfolk. They loved the air cadets band.”

Guests from Weeze included Ulrich Francken, the burgermeister of the town who is equivalent to a mayor, and his wife Elizabeth, Heinz Weinen, the former German Direktor of Weeze who started the twinning process, Ray Hart, former RAF Wing Commander who also helped start the partnership, Ian Monsom, chairman of Norfolk County Council, George Freeman, mid Norfolk MP and former Watton mayor and mayoress Michael and Jan Wassell.

The church service was led by the Rev Geoff Garrett, from St Mary’s Church, Father Michael Johnstone, from Watton Catholic church, Pastor Manfred Babel, from Weeze’s Catholic church, Pfarrer Johannes Fries, also from Weeze, and the Rev Barbara Winner, Watton’s Methodist minister.

Some 130 people were involved in the celebrations, half from Watton and the rest from Weeze.

The twinning charter was signed on February 14, 1987 and the first visit from the German town to mid Norfolk took place a month later.

Former mayor of Watton, Mr Wassell, and Mr Francken reaffirmed the charter by signing it again during the celebrations.

A partnership was formed after Abels housing business, based in Watton, helped transport people from RAF Honington in Suffolk to RAF Laarbruch, near Weeze.

Mr Freeman said: “The celebration of Watton’s twinning with Weeze was a perfect illustration of what twinning can achieve. By coming together, these two former RAF base towns have created an opportunity to celebrate the importance of the forces in the local community, promote good Anglo-German relations and inspire the next generation to think internationally whilst celebrating our heritage. In this Jubilee year, to see Watton’s cadets and scouts parading with dignitaries from both towns made me feel very proud to be the MP for Watton.”

To become a member of Watton Twinning Association, ring Mrs Devine on 01953 883317 or email magsdevine@tiscali.co.uk

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