Malmesbury Shares Friendship Across the World!

Malmesbury Shares Friendship Across the World!

Last week Malmesbury was planning to be hosting a visit from its twin town Neibull, in Germany, culminating in a Civic Reception at Malmesbury Town Hall on Friday evening but the visit had to be postponed because of the COVID 19 pandemic. Instead Malmesbury’s friendships with its four twin and friendship towns has been boosted by a Virtual Friendship Celebration organised as a replacement.

At the invitation of the Mayor of Malmesbury, Campbell Ritchie, over 50 representatives from Niebull and Bad Hersfeld in Germany, Gien in France and Malmesbury in South Africa joined a virtual stage. It was a remarkable evening of sharing information, experiences, ideas, updates and greetings at a time when all are experiencing the effects of the same health emergency.    

Each town presented short videos about their town in 2020 and showcasing examples of local arts and cultural activity. This was supported by talks by civic representatives and members of the twinning and friendship associations. An added element was that each of these talks was translated in advance so they could be enjoyed equally by all participants. 

Speaking after the event Julia Bowen, chair of Malmesbury’s Twinning Association said:

‘It was quite an experience to see old and new friends from France, Germany and South Africa all at the same time. The videos themselves were as good as a thousand words and translating the content in advance added to the evening working so well.  

I really enjoyed seeing the whole town of Niebull dancing to Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’, a performance group in Gien making light of the encumbrance of face masks, the majesty of Bad Hersfeld’s festivals and magnificent performances from youth groups in Malmesbury South Africa. I am also pleased to say that Malmesbury UK was well represented and I would like to give special thanks to our Junior Citizen of the Year, Ben Thornbury, who produced a great video showing Malmesbury in 2020 as well as highlighting connections with its past and Stefano Vandelli for co-ordinating some special performances by a cross section of local performers, including our Community Group of the Year, Malmesbury Community Choir.

Of course we are looking forward to when we can meet again, but, without doubt, this event has strengthened our mutual links during a time when it would be easy not to be in contact at all. We are now less disappointed that we have had to postpone exciting plans we had this year for face to face visits and more encouraged to explore all the other ways we can work together in the future.’

Mayor Campbell Ritchie said ‘It was a pleasure helping to make this event happen. Each of the towns responded immediately to my invitation to take part and participated with great enthusiasm and energy. I was also very pleased, and relieved, that the technology worked brilliantly. I am very grateful to my fellow Mayors and the leaders of the twinning associations and friendship groups here in Malmesbury, Julia Bowen and Ray Sanderson, and their counterparts in Niebull, Bad Hersfeld, Gien, and Malmesbury South Africa for making this evening so much fun. The evening showed us how much we all have in common and, as we were reminded by the Mayor of Niebull, Uwe Christiansen, quoting from German author Herman Hesse ‘Where friendly paths meet, the whole world looks like home for an hour’.  

A performance by the Groupe Chorale from Gien

Bad Hersfeld Festival