Bromley Town Twinning Association – Event reports

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event reports from 2011


A large party from our sister twinning association the Freundeskreis Neuwied-Bromley made their biennial trip to Bromley in September – the majority staying in the homes of Bromley Town Twinning Association members.Mayor welcomeThe highlight was a visit to look at the Olympic site coupled with a visit to the splendid Thamesside Prospect of Whitby pub.

The Olympic visit was perhaps a little less glamorous than it first seemed.The viewpoint is just from the public spaces and paths nearby. You don’t get anywhere near the buildings or inside them – a little bit to our disappointment. But we had the excellent services of a German speaking guide.

We staged a reception dinner at the Sophie’s Choice restaurant in Sidcup to welcome our visitors. We had to go outside our borough for the event because there simply wasn’t anywhere with suitable space on a Friday night in Bromley. But the food was of excellent standard and there was a great pleasure in seeing our friends from Neuwied again.Taylors

On the Saturday morning of the long weekend, the traditional Mayoral reception was staged for our visitors at the Civic Centre.

It has to be said the Mayor Councillor David McBride couldn’t have been more welcoming. And he even stayed to see our coach depart on the Olympic site visit. On Sunday some of the Neuwied visitors took the opportunity to visit the Thames Festival while others spent the day with their host families.

The Neuwied visitors made their trip by plane to Gatwick from Cologne. Next year it’s our turn to go to Neuwied to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the twinning of the two towns.

Pictures: the Mayoral reception for our visitors from Neuwied, and above BTTA honorary life members Susan and Brian Taylor at the reception with association member Maria-Esther Wilkinson and Rhineland Pfalz MP Fredi Winter


Hannelore of our sister organisation the Freundeskreis Neuwied-Bromley, describes how the Neuwieders viewed the visit

Thirty-seven members of the Freundeskreis Neuwied-Bromley made a return visit to the twin town for a visit full of action packed days. The Neuwieders were warmly greeted by the Chairman of the Bromley Town Twinning Association, Peter Brown, at a welcoming party in an excellent restaurant on the first evening. About 80 people were present, reminiscing over past experiences, renewing old friendships, making new contacts, and generally enjoying themselves.

That there was so much interest in meeting the German visitors was a sure sign of the strength of the twinning partnership which is well established and recognised on both sides as having true value. The next day, Saturday, started with a reception at the Civic Centre. The Mayor, David McBride, a Welshman, thanked both guests and hosts for all they were doing to make the twinning such a reality, and announced his visit to Neuwied in 2012 – the 25th anniversary year.

The next part of the programme was a guided tour of the site of the 2012 Olympic Games. Stratford, a previously run-down working-class district in the east of London, with high unemployment and all the problems that that brings, is where the games will be held in 2012.  Most of the highly modern stadia, equipped with all the latest technology, will remain after the Olympics and will create a totally new area of London.

After suitable refreshment at the riverside Prospect of Whitby, one of London’s oldest pubs, the rest of the afternoon, as well as the following day, was devoted to London and to its 15th Thames Festival. The heart of London, one of the great cities of the world, was turned into a non-stop festival – from the Tower of London and St Katharine’s Docks all the way to Hungerford Bridge. 
Thousands of visitors were attracted to countless market stalls, musical performances, processions of boats on the river, and rowing races between teams of highly decorated, historical boats. The Night Carnival stood out as a truly exceptional performance – 2,000 dancing to the beat of salsa, rumba and samba, accompanied by musicians and lantern bearers, with costumes and masks, along the river banks and over the bridges. A magnificent firework display was the culmination of the evening and a wonderful conclusion to the festivities. 

The banks of the Thames and the streets and squares around the river witnessed a magical festival of Britishness with an international flavour. All the
visitors from Neuwied were deeply impressed by this unforgettable experience, combined with all sorts of other impressions from the short stay in our twin town. Any language problems were simply lost in the wonderful hospitality.

Hannelore is pictured, second from left, with the Mayor of Bromley, Councillor David McBride, at the Civic Centre reception



Youngsters from Warren Road Primary School in Orpington enjoyed a five-day stay in Neuwied this September, the latest in a long-standing exchange with their Neuwied twin school, the Grundschule an der Wied. Ten children went on the trip, accompanied by 10 adults and three staff, including head teacher Mrs Sue Meckiff. The other staff members were Mrs Neville, Head of Modern Foreign Languages and Mrs Kate Kermode, a German speaker who had lived in Neuwied in the past and was keen to re-visit the town.Children's picnic

The children were extremely well received by their hosts at the Neuwied school and had a very full programme, including time spent at the school and on an outing to the Bundesgartenschau in Koblenz.  The new head teacher at the Grundschule Frau Zimmer is very keen to continue this exchange contact, and plans are already underway for the German children to come to Orpington in May next year.


Here are accounts from two Warren Road pupils who went on the trip.

HANNAH: When we were in Germany we met the families at their school in Neuwied. Then we went home and had dinner with the families. The next morning we went to the school and then we were told to go into our German friend’s class. In my class our first lesson was PE and we played dodge ball.  Then it was break and we played with the little sister. After break was Art. We were painting flowers. The painting that we painted was Sunflowers. After Art we had English. The English girls helped the German children. The different classes put on a show for everyone on the exchange including the parents. We had a short buffet. We went out all afternoon to the town near the Rhine. Lots of us sat there and we met our German families. We went home for the evening.

The next day we went to a flower festival called Buga. We had a picnic. Then we went off for one hour. When we met up with the children we went on the cable cars and the adults had a tour. We went to a water park and then met the adults at the palace.

The next day was a family day and we went to an animal park. We got to feed the animals. In the evening we went to a restaurant. We departed from the school early next morning. Lots of people cried.Goodbye

TYLA: I stayed with a lovely family.  The host’s names were Sophie, Alina (mum), Alios (dad) and Nicklas (brother).

On the day we got there it was very dark and we were all very hungry.  I got a little glimpse of the school.  It looked very nice.  When we got back to their house it was beautiful, it was massive. Me and my mum got to sleep with each other. On the second day we went to the school.  It was huge and it had an upstairs.  I was in class 4C. I was with Hannah and Erin (from England). We did PE, Art and English. Me and Sophie played outside.

On the third day we went to Buga. At the Buga it was very hot and me and Erin were too hot, so we had to pour water on our heads. We went to a play park and then we had to walk for ages. We got very tired. We went on the cable car and went down to Neuwied. We went to a water park. We got our clothes soaking wet and it lasted for the rest of the day. We went for a guided tour and we got to go to an ice cream parlour and go to the River Rhine. The adults sat there and had a drink. Then we met our German families and went back to their Buga and went home for tea.

On the last day we were supposed to go to a castle but we didn’t so me and my family, Hannah and Erin’s family went to the forest and went horse riding (pony). We had a lovely day there. I thought Germany was fun, exciting and adventurous.

Pictures: The children make the most of the picnic weather, top. Gute Fahrt - have a good journey, say the children of the Grundschule an der Wied as they say goodbye.



This was the title of our 2011 annual lecture in October. Our invited speaker was Professor Alan Mayhew from the Sussex European Institute at the University of Sussex. More than 60 people attended the event at Bromley Baptist Church.What Professor Mayhew did was to give us a broad sweep of modern German history, using many short film clips of major events such as President Kennedy's Ich bin ein Berliner speech and the fall of the Berlin Wall.Lecture

Professor Mayhew emphasised the many differences between the German states (Lander). "Germany is a very regional country. The only time it was over-centralised, it was a catastrophe."

But he stressed the Germans all have one thing in common. They are an essentially conservative nation who do not take risks with their industry or their economy. They work hard and many of their biggest and most successful companies are family owned with all the stability of long term thinking and planning that can give. They tend to refuse to move from place to place through work commitments unlike people in countries such as Britain.

And dealing with the present euro crisis, he stressed that Germany would do whatever it takes to save the euro because it is committed to European unity.

Picture: Professor Mayhew tells us about German society



Over a long weekend in May 2011, 16 intrepid BTTA members made a trip to Berlin under the guidance of their leaders, Barry Cogdell and Ralph Skelton. And what a trip it was – the flight was good (BMI from Heathrow) and the Hotel Ivbergs in Kleiststrasse was excellent, central location, amazing breakfasts and very reasonable dinners!Berlin castle

After the usual “Stadtrundfahrt” by bus, and later by boat on the River Spree, the group packed their days visiting many of the sights of Berlin including the Dom (cathedral), the Museen Insel (museums island) and the Berliner Mauer (Berlin wall - very grim), Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburger Tor. A short train ride away, the Schloss Cecilienhof (Cecilienhof Castle) in the beautiful Neuer Garten (New Garden) in Potsdam was also visited. The Schloss was where Churchill, Truman and Stalin met for the Potsdam Conference in 1945 which agreed the partition of Germany.

The highlight of the weekend was a visit to the Bundestag, including the Reichstag. Our good friends in Neuwied had contacted their MP, Sabine Bätzing, who arranged a special behind the scenes conducted tour by her Research Assistant, Sebastian Bläser, who was most helpful, humorous – and patient with his first English speaking tour. We were shown the underground passages connecting the three Bundestag buildings to the Parliamentary Chamber, including the graffiti left by the Russian soldiers. Also we surveyed Berlin from the roof of the Reichstag and climbed the inspiring glass dome designed by Sir Norman Foster.Bundestag

On a lighter (or heavier!) side, we enjoyed an amazing meal at an East Prussian restaurant with Councillor Nicholas Bennett. What a meal – huge portions! The meatballs were the size of tennis balls – and the desserts were equally large. A fantastic evening.

So a very successful visit and “taster” of Berlin, informative and fun – the group really gelled – so much so that the group has asked Barry and Ralph to organise another trip for next year! This they will do - once they have recovered! - since the visit illustrated the friendship and joint interests of BTTA members.

Top picture, garden of the Schloss Ceciliengarten. Above, seminar at the Bundestag



The Newstead Singers are a ladies’ choir based in Orpington, founded in 1972 by their conductor Lesley Cooper. Every other year (since 2003), they have developed the habit of travelling to Europe for a week of singing.Newstead choir

Back in 2009, Gerda Loosemore was contacted via the BTTA by a ladies’ choir in Neuwied – the Wiedperlen – saying that they were coming to Bromley and would welcome the opportunity of singing with another ladies’ choir. So, in October 2009, the Newstead Singers and the Wiedperlen did a joint concert in Petts Wood. A reciprocal visit was suggested, so the Newstead Singers 2011 trip was to the Rhineland. Trips like this take quite a lot of planning – Lesley and Graham Cooper made four trips to Cologne and Neuwied, during which they got to know Inge Alsdorf, chairman of the Wiedperlen Choir, very well!

We stayed at a hotel in Cologne, and sang three times in Cologne – including in the famous cathedral – but the Tuesday was set aside for a visit to Neuwied.  Our hire coach was a magnificent brand new German double decker, and we set off from Cologne at 9.30 - in pouring rain!  We stopped for coffee at the picturesque village of Linz am Rhein, and then continued on to Neuwied, where our hosts had arranged a buffet lunch at the Food Hotel. 

On the outskirts of Neuwied, we came to a bridge where the railway crosses the road. The bridge had a height of 3.70m, but our super coach was 4m high!  After am amazing three point turn assisted by a lady bus driver whose bus was blocked by ours, we had an interesting deviation round the suburbs of Neuwied, until we eventually found our way back to the Food Hotel for an excellent lunch, attended by many of the Wiedperlen as well.

At the end of lunch, we were joined by Herr Roth, the Oberbürgermeister.  We were warmly welcomed, and Herr Roth told us some of the history of Neuwied.  He also introduced his colleagues, one of whom turned out to be one of the directors of the Victoria and Albert Museum on a visit to Neuwied because of the famous Roentgen furniture! Newstead visit

We then had a couple of hours free to walk round Neuwied, following which our coach took us to the Evangelische Kirche in Niederbieber to rehearse for our concert.  We rehearsed for an hour or so, after which it was the Wiedperlen’s turn to rehearse. We returned to the parish rooms to find yet another marvellous buffet awaiting us.

The concert was a great success. We alternated with the Wiedperlen, each singing four to five pieces at a time.  Then, at the end, the two choirs joined together and we first sang The Lord is my Shepherd by Howard Goodall, so well known also as the theme tune to the Vicar of Dibley. We were conducted by Lesley.

Our friends in Neuwied had been very thorough in their research, and had discovered that (unknown to any of us) Howard Goodall was born in Bromley in 1958! We then sang Alta Trinita, conducted by Christian Röttgen, the conductor of the Wiedperlen. There was enthusiastic applause from the audience, after which we returned to the parish rooms for more sandwiches!

As we were getting back in our coach for the trip back to Cologne, Inge Gütler thanked us all for coming and singing – and hoped that we would come again.  Who knows – perhaps we shall! 

At all our concerts (not just in Neuwied), we enjoyed marvellous hospitality, and were made to feel really welcome, not least since several Wiedperlen, their conductor and family members supported us at our later concerts in Cologne.

Top picture, the concert. Above, left to right, Inge Gütler, Chairwoman of Freundeskreis Neuwied-Bromley, Graham Cooper, Lesley Cooper (leader and conductor of The Newstead Singers), Friedhelm Ernerth (Freundeskreis Neuwied-Bromley), Inge Alsdorf (Wiedperlen Ladies Choir leader), Oberbürgermeister Nikolaus Roth



Our chairman Peter Brown and his wife Sheila, one of our committee members, attended a highly successful concert by the symphony orchestra of the Bromley Youth Music Trust on Saturday, April 9, in the Heimathaus in Neuwied.Orchestra conductor

BYMT are well known and loved visitors to Neuwied and the concert contributed powerfully to the friendship and understanding between the two towns. Peter writes:

Following an open-air "picnic concert" in July 2009, in the grounds of the Rommersdorf Abbey, BYMT were invited to return to Neuwied – they have in fact been on several other occasions – but this time with a full symphony orchestra, to give a formal concert.  The invitation with accepted with great alacrity, with a “Spring Festival Concert” held in the Heimathaus. 

The Bromley Youth Symphony Orchestra, unlike the smaller groups within BYMT, does not normally undertake European travel, given the complex logistics of moving close to 100 musicians and their instruments and equipment, but coaches were hired and arrangements were made through close liaison with members of the Freundeskreis Neuwied-Bromley who were totally responsible for the management of the concert.Conductor stands 

The young musicians and their support staff, led by Musical Director Michael Purton, were accommodated in the newly opened Food Hotel, the costs of which were met by sponsorship from local companies organised by the Freundeskreis.

On the day before the main concert, the orchestra gave a shortened “children’s concert” at the school for blind and special needs children in Feldkirchen.  Some 300 young children listened with great enthusiasm to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas and Tchaikovksy’s 1812 Overture, and then were able to mingle with the musicians and try out their instruments – a really special feature of a very moving concert.

For the main concert, played to a packed hall and attended by Neuwied’s Oberbürgermeister Nikolaus Roth and Bromley’s Mayor Councillor George Taylor, in Neuwied on his Mayoral visit, the orchestra opened with Dvorak’s New World Symphony which enabled them to display the full range of their talents. The second half of the concert was made up of the two pieces played the previous day.Concert audience

In introducing the orchestra, both Mayors paid tribute to their musicianship and to the tremendous contribution they have made to the twinning partnership – fine ambassadors of Bromley, to quote our Mayor George Taylor. They also acknowledged the effort that had been put in by members of the Neuwied twinning association to make this visit such a success.

Top, the orchestra in concert at Neuwied's Heimathaus. Middle, Michael Purton. Bottom, audience applause with the Mayor of Bromley, George Taylor, and Oberbürgermeister Nikolaus Roth. Pictures: Marcus Dietz, Neuwieder Rundschau



Ravensbourne Morris Men are always welcome visitors to Neuwied and they usually aim for the town's annual festival, the Deichstadtfest (Dyke Town Festival).Morris men

This year was no exception. The festival ran from Thursday, July 7, to Sunday, July 10, and as they traditionally do, our sister organisation, the Freundeskreis, ran their own festival stall.

The Morris Men again received the usual warm German welcome and performed in the town on the Saturday and Sunday, "enjoying the occasional beer and cake between our dancing sessions," they tell us.

The Ravensbourne Morris Men are made welcome at the Freudeskreis stall by Freundeskreis chairwoman Inge Gütler, centre



Three members of our association went to Neuwied to enjoy the 2011 Karneval festivities – Lynne and David Noble and Alan Roberts. The weather was perfect, dry with clear blue skies, and daytime temperatures well above freezing.

The group were given a very warm welcome by Neuwied’s Oberbürgermeister, Nikolaus Roth and by the Chairwoman of Neuwied’s Freundeskreis Neuwied-Bromley, Inge Gütler. Carnival highlights included the Oberbürgermeister’s party for carnival VIPs, local politicians and businessmen; the traditional battle for the town hall and the defeat of the Oberbürgermeister, and the main Rosenmontag carnival parade. 

Lynne, David and Alan also enjoyed an interesting visit to the chicken farm at Heddesdorf which supplies in excess of one million eggs each year to local homes, shops and restaurants.  Another “treat” was an afternoon outing to the historic and highly picturesque town of Cochem on the banks of the Mosel.