What does it achieve?
The creation of twinning links is the first step in a process which can and should reach to every level of the community. A desire to meet people from different nationalities to exchange ideas, to establish friendship and, perhaps, cooperate in solving common problems are the marks of a vibrant twinning link. Many benefits can flow from discussions about common interests and experience and ways of solving common problems. Every aspect of local life and government can be usefully tested against the experience of others.
Participants in successful twinning links are able to select any particular aspect of the twinning for emphasis. Some communities place the emphasis on the development of commercial and business links between twinned communities, others may emphasize sports or the arts or simply family links.
Unless all sections of the community have an opportunity to be involved, the arrangements will be unlikely to succeed. The younger generation probably has as much to gain from twinning as anyone, both as regards world understanding or simply as a means of improving the understanding of a foreign language. For this reason, language teaching staff play a significant part in supporting and encouraging a good twinning link.
Town twinning is widely recognised as an important aid to international understanding and friendship, and has been a feature of local life for over 30 years.
The borough council has recently adopted an explicit set of aims for cultural exchange that provides a useful framework, and complements, current policy and practice in town twinning. It is clear that town twinning can make a distinctive contribution to cultural exchange, alongside other forms of networking.
Our twinned towns
Bury St Edmunds and Compiègne in France
This Friends of Compiègne have been twinned with this very pleasant Picardy town for rover 40 years. Compiègne is situated in the Oise department, about an hour from Paris. It was here, in a forest clearing, that the armistice was signed in 1918. It is equally renowned for Napoleon's splendid palace and its links with Joan of Arc.
Firm friendships have been established over the years, with the emphasis very much on the social scene. The successful exchange format has developed into one long weekend together annually, alternating between countries.
In 2013 it is the turn of the British contingent to head off to France for the customary warm welcome and culinary delights provided by their counterparts, les Amis de Bury St Edmunds.
New members of all ages are always welcome and the associations are skilled at matching singles, couples and families with like-minded partners. Members do not have to be fluent in French, but a little helps!
Further information and the annual programme of events are available from:
Phone: 01449 736944
Bury St Edmunds and Kevelaer, Germany
In 1981, Bury St Edmunds was twinned with Kevelaer which is a German town of about 24,000 population. It lies close to the Dutch border between the Rivers Maas (Holland) and Rhine and is a town with strong Christian traditions. In this case, the impetus for twinning came from existing contacts in the two countries mainly centred on the Royal Air Force stations at Honington and Laarbruch. There is a separate friends group which is both enthusiastic and active.
The Friends of Kevelaer
Mrs Diane Balaam
Bury St Edmunds
Suffolk IP30 0RA
Phone: 01449 736374
Haverhill and Pont St Esprit, France
In 1973 Haverhill Urban District Council entered into a twinning link with Pont St Esprit, a town of approximately 10,000 population in the Gard District of southern France. It is a town with less industry than Haverhill and its character emanates from its Roman origins and its tourist potential, located as it is on the banks of the Rhone and close to the mouth of the Ardeche gorge. Haverhill and District Twin Towns Association continues its successful exchange visits with Pont St Esprit.
Haverhill and Ehringshausen in Germany
In 1982 the borough council encouraged a twinning commitment between Haverhill and Ehringshausen which is a small town of approximately 5000 in the region of Hessen, Germany. It is the administrative centre for a group of eight outlying villages with a total population of 10,000. Interest thrives in this partnership through the Twin Towns Association.
The Haverhill and District Twin Towns Association
Ian Chapman, secretary
Phone 01440 708328 or mobile 07711191234
Other links of friendship
St Edmundsbury and Huy in Belgium
Huy (pronounced Hwee) is small but vibrant township situated in a French speaking part of Belgium. An approach from Huy in Belgium in 1994 for a possible twinning link with St Edmundsbury resulted in the signing of mutual Charters of Friendship.
Huy is an historic town attractively located on the wooded banks of the River Meuse midway between Liege and Namur. It is approximately two hours driving time from Brussels.
Some good community links have been developed between Huy and Bury St Edmunds, particularly between the Police Forces of the two communities. There have been reciprocal visits involving pupils from the County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds, and the Rotary Clubs of the two towns have been in amicable contact. Suffolk County Council has established formal links with West Flanders in Belgium and West Suffolk College already has strong links with Belgium.
St Edmundsbury and Godollo, Hungary
Godollo (best pronounced in English as something like Girdle-er) is the most recent link to be explored.
Godollo has a population of approximately 30,000 and is located 25 miles east of Budapest. It is a pleasant country town which serves as an important commercial, cultural and administrative centre for the local region. It is a University town and at its heart lies a magnificent palace, once a favourite residence of the ill-fated Empress Elizabeth of Austria who was also Queen of Hungary. Some residents of Bury St Edmunds have close family ties with Godollo and from those slender links the present friendship sprang.
The Mayor of Godollo, Dr Gemesi Gyorgy, is understood to be keen to establish a formal twinning link between Godollo and Bury St Edmunds.
Informal community links
The Samuel Ward Upper School in Haverhill has developed its own links with the Ukraine and the town of Haverhill itself has a bond of understanding with Haverhill in Massachusetts, USA.
As well as the specific contacts listed above, for enquiries concerning town twinning and civic events contact:
West Suffolk House
Bury St Edmunds
Suffolk IP33 3YU
Phone: 01284 757135