North Walsham welcomes landmark visit from its Friesenried twins

A happy three decades of Anglo-German friendship were celebrated in North Walsham this week as the community welcomed a party from its twin town of Friesenried.

A group of 33 Germans, ranging from a 10-year-old to senior citizens, were entertained by host families in North Walsham.

Their busy itinerary included trips to Norwich's Guildhall, Toll's Meadow nature reserve in Wymondham, Cambridge, Yarmouth's Time and Tide museum, and finished with a dinner and ceilidh in North Walsham's Scarborough Hill Hotel before the visitors left for home on Tuesday.

The trip marked the official 20th anniversary of the link, although connections date back a further decade, and among this week's guests was Wolfgang Gerum who signed the official twinning documents back in 1991 and is still Mayor of Friesenreid.

Bill Bowerman, chairman of the North Walsham twinning association, said the long-established link remained flourishing because of the Germans' warmth and generosity.

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And vice-chairman Steve Wolstenholme, a member since 1994, said that new members quickly became hooked both by the Germans' hospitality and the beauty of Bavaria.

He urged more people to join the group and said being able to speak German was not necessary as English was so widely-spoken on the continent.

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The friendship owes its existence to Friesenried resident Dieter Wehnert who visited the UK as a young teacher on several occasions and was determined to set up a twinning link. The Joint Twinning Committee in London contacted three towns and only North Walsham responded, but in a half-hearted fashion.

However, Mr Wehnert persisted and North Walsham's then town clerk, Ron Nash, called in at Friesenried on his way home from an Italian holiday, was bowled over by his reception, and the first informal visits took place in 1981.

Anyone interested in joining the group should contact present-day town clerk Margaret Foster, on weekday mornings. Ring 01692 404114.

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