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Forres twin town links strenghtened

By SPP Reporter

FORRES strengthened its European links via two visitor exchanges this summer.

Twinners on the steps of Goslar's imperial palace, the Kaisersaal
Twinners on the steps of Goslar's imperial palace, the Kaisersaal

Forres-Vienenburg Twinning Association organised a visit here by a small group from the German town, followed by a larger group visit to Germany a few weeks later.

“The trips were a follow-up to our visit last year,” explained Twinning Association chairman David MacFarquhar. “They were also an attempt to kick-start the school exchanges between Forres Academy and the Vicco von Bulow Oberschule in Vienenburg, a slightly smaller school.

“The visits were very successful and, importantly, brought the staff in Forres Academy into direct contact with staff from the Oberschule in Vienenburg.”

He added: “There is great enthusiasm to make this work at both ends.

“An excellent rapport was established between Herr Guido Igelbrink, responsible for exchanges in the Vienenburg school, and Ms Emma Harris, principal teacher of modern languages at Forres Academy.

“Both head teachers, Mrs Stuart in Forres and Frau Rudolph in Vienenburg, have thrown their weight behind the project.”

Oberschule teacher Herr Igelbrink stayed with Mr MacFarquhar and his wife in Forres ,while Vienenburg pupil Kathleen Siebert and her mother Agis Siebert stayed with the Michie family near Kinloss.

The trio spent two days at Forres Academy in the company of Ms Harris.

Kathleen gave presentations to younger pupils in the German classes, where she spoke about herself, her school and life in Vienenburg before answering their questions.

Herr Igelbrink told the pupils there was a lot of interest in his school in renewing links with Forres Academy, telling them they will be made very welcome in Vienenburg.

The Germans were also given a tour of the school and were very impressed, especially by the facilities.

At the beginning of the week, the Twinning Association organised a dinner at the Mosset Tavern where the visitors met Academy head teacher Mrs Carol Stuart, other members of the school’s Modern Languages department and local committee members.

Kathleen’s host Fiona Michie was also present with daughters Lauren and Kyla, who visited the Vienenburg Oberschule last June.

The group also visited Nelson’s Tower, enjoyed Findhorn and Roseisle beaches, went on a Loch Ness boat trip, had a successful dolphin-spotting trip off the Black Isle followed by fish and chips in Avoch, and a full day in Edinburgh where they visited the castle and the Royal Yacht Britannia.

They told Mr MacFarquhar they thought Forres was “brilliant!”

“Hopes were expressed on both sides that a full resumption of pupil exchanges might take place in 2017,” he added.

Later in June, the Forres-Vienenburg Twinning Link was extended to include the city of Goslar.

Thirteen members from Forres attended a ceremony in Goslar’s imperial palace, the Kaisersaal, to extend the 32-year-old link to include Goslar, a city with about 50,000 inhabitants and the administrative capital of the area.

Later that day, a quaich donated to the Oberschule in Vienenburg by the Twinning Association was presented to the school’s best English student of the year.

On the following Sunday, the people of Goslar held their Lange Bank Tag (Long Bench Day), a lengthy, open-air ‘liquid’ breakfast. Speeches were made on both sides celebrating the occasion and the locals were introduced to Ben Romach whisky! The morning was slightly marred by a steady downpour of rain which did little to dampen spirits.

While there, the Forres group enjoyed an excursion to Hamlyn (of Pied Piper fame) which included a river cruise and a day in the city of Leipzig.

They also visited the aircraft museum at Wernigerode, which was of particular interest to members of the group who were involved with Morayvia at Kinloss.

Some also climbed the Brocken, the highest mountain in north Germany and at 3743 feet, some 300 feet higher than Ben Wyvis.

The visit ended with a barbecue and the visitors were reunited with some of the people who came to Forres in 2015 with a team of young footballers. The Germans said they were looking forward to a visit from Forres Area Soccer 7s in the future, and to bringing their own boys to Scotland again.

“The Vienenburg Association is planning to come to Forres next June,” said Mr MacFarquhar. “They want to see the European Pipe Band Championships.

“We will be looking to accommodate between 30 and 40 people and will probably appeal to the wider community to help us put roofs above all their heads.”

Anyone interested in accommodating one or more of our visitors next year should contact davidmacfarquhartwinning@yahoo.co.uk.

“We would be delighted to hear from you!,” he added.

The Forres group left Germany on the day of the EU Referendum.

“There was great disappointment in Vienenburg over the result,” said Mr MacFarquhar. “It will only serve to strengthen the link between the communities but the chance of getting any EU funding to support twinning has probably disappeared.”

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