Town twinning

Museums and heritage

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A local authority may have twinning agreements with towns in one or more different countries in order to promote cultural understanding between the communities. Local people may hold exchange visits with the residents of the twinned towns.

The council already have five twinning and friendship arrangements. They are Saint-Mandé in France, Wandsbek in Germany, St Johns in Antigua and Barbuda, Roseau in the Commonwealth of Dominica and Mirpur in Pakistan.

The Council has had town twinning links with Saint-Mandé for over 40 years. The 40th anniversary of "The Jumelage" (or Twinning) was celebrated in 1996 culminating in an official delegation visiting Saint Mandé to mark the occasion of the signing of the twinning declaration in April 1956 between Saint Mandé and the then Chingford Borough Council.

As well as official visits, student exchanges take place between Highams Park School and College Offenbach. More recent events have included local artists exhibiting their works at the 50th Annual Salon of French Artists in Saint Mandé Town Hall.

In recent years, the Joseph Clarke School for the Visually Impaired played host to a group of visually impaired pupils from Saint-Mandé. The successful visit was arranged through the offices of the Institut Departemental Des Aveugles, Saint-Mandé. Five pupils visited Waltham Forest, staying at the Gilwell Park Centre, Chigwell.

Waltham Forest was twinned with the German town of Wandsbek, some 60 years ago to ‘mend the wounds of war’. Wandsbek is a borough of Hamburg, and many cultural exchanges have been made since then, including Waltham Forest Councillors and the Mayor.

The association was started in 1949 by Elsie Pracey in Leyton, and for twenty years it was twinned with Leyton, before becoming borough-wide. Wandsbek was chosen by recommendation of Reginald William Sorensen, Baron Sorensen, a former Leyton MP, as being a parallel town to Leyton.

The Twinning Association arose from an initiative by Dominican born Mr Franklyn Georges who was a Councillor of Waltham Forest and had been the first African-Caribbean person to become the Mayor of Waltham Forest in the 1990/91 municipal year.

His wife Veronica was born in Antigua of Dominican parentage so it was with the support of local Dominican and Antiguan community groups and Associations working with the Council’s Race Equality Unit that educational and cultural trips for local children to the islands were organised. Subsequently in 1992 the idea of twinning was discussed at a public meeting and this was followed by the establishment of a steering committee leading to the signing of the Town Twinning Charters in April 1999.

The Mayor of Waltham Forest is the patron of the Twinning Association. At the main Town Hall gates the sign states that Waltham Forest is twinned with Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica.

The objectives are mainly to promote friendship, information exchange and mutual understanding of cultural, recreational and commercial activities of the linked areas.

The Twinning Association would organise fund-raising activities and seek other sources of funding to achieve its aims.

Membership, voting rights and duties are governed by the Twinning Association’s Constitution.

The following is a brief summary of past and present activities:

  1. Taken 12 children to Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica
  2. Invited the Antiguan and Barbuda and Dominican High Commissioners to the Town Hall
  3. Hosted a public meeting and reception for the then Prime Minister of Dominica Mr Roosevelt Douglas
  4. Attended flag raising ceremonies
  5. Fund raising: walks, coach trips, cultural events
  6. Raised funds towards 5 years’ scholarships for 3 young people to attend schools in Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica

The Twinning Association is currently planning to celebrate in 2014, 15 years since the signing of the Charters. Local membership and support are being actively encouraged.

St John's, Antigua, Website

Mirpur, Pakistan Click to get info

Waltham Forest has a Friendship Treaty with the Municipality of Mirpur in Azad Kashmir.

Waltham Forest is home to one of the largest Pakistani communities in Outer London. Large proportions of the Pakistani population in Waltham Forest, including councillors, are from or have links with Mirpur.