The Federation of Twin Towns and International Friendship Links for North West England and North Wales



Friendly Foreign Relations


Almost a year before the Guild 2012 celebrations, the Preston Twinning Partnerships (PTPs) a totally voluntary organisation of persons wishing to seek, keep and maintain contacts with Preston's international town twinning partners - began planning their contribution to the Guild 2012 festivities and apart from hosting delegations from Preston's twin towns decided on the following:


the production of:


1) A Charity Concert with home-grown talents and performers from our twin towns,

2) The arrangement of a Welcoming-Dinner,

3) The arrangement of a Celebration-Dinner, and

4) actively participating in and organising the international part of the Food Festival on Winckley Square.


Also, at the request of Preston City Council, the PTPs took on the responsibility of welcoming and entertaining 51 guests from Preston's four twin towns for the period from Wednesday 29th August until Wednesday 5th September 2012.  A budget was provided for reasonable costs of transport, hosting and entertaining by the City for the civic guests, of which there were 15.  The costs for the remaining 36 visitors were borne by PTPs.


The invitations were sent early and the list of visitors finalised around the middle of August. A comprehensive transport schedule was devised to make sure that each and every guest was allocated his/her individual airport arrival/departure dates and times, places at function during the Guild and accommodation in either a hotel or private host. Alas, due to different flight times, it was impossible to receive our guests all on the same day. Hence some delegations missed our Charity Concert on Friday night, the Welcoming Dinner on Saturday and the Celebration dinner on Monday.


PTPs Committee Members assembled a very comprehensive Welcoming pack with an individual name badge, a Preston City lapel pin, a welcoming letter in each visitor's native language, a pen set generously provided by the University of Central Lancashire, a town map, invitations to the two dinners and an A4 print of the commemorative montage of public buildings in all twin town. The Lancashire Chamber of Commerce kindly provided cotton bags with the EU logo to contain all these welcoming gifts which were indeed well received by our foreign guests.


As far as communications were concerned, local voluntary interpreters were available at all times and they coped surprisingly well. The Polish delegation brought their own interpreter.


 Shortly after their arrival and collection from Manchester Airport, the Recklinghausen delegation were whisked away to the Preston Trampolining Club to meet up with a trampolining group from Recklinghausen who were having a really good time with their Prestonian counterparts.


The PTPs launch into the festivities was, of course, the Charity Concert on Friday night, funded entirely by PTPs with the help of a number of generous sponsors and ably organised by the Head of Performing Arts at Runshaw College and a well-known local promoter. As the name implies, a dozen local charities were to benefit from the residue of the takings. Alas, although the concert was a wonderful success for the promoters and very much acclaimed by the audience, the takings fell well below expectations and, regrettably, no monies could be passed on to the charities. The financial loss incurred was paid out of existing PTPs funds.


The Saturday brought our visitors the non-stop delight of being honoured guests at witnessing the pageant of the 3rd Proclamation on the steps of the Harris Library, watching the Trade Procession from the Civic Grandstand on the Flag Market, having a pleasant buffet lunch at the Town Hall, visiting the Food Fair on Winckley Square and meeting up with chefs from The Netherland, France, Germany and Poland as well as sampling the national dishes they had prepared for the general public. A stall from the Czech Republic was very popular with offers of wine tasting from Moravia and so was a stall selling Polish delicacies to the appreciative locals. To the delight of the Food Fair visitors, the N mes Brass Ensemble gave an impromptu concert during the afternoon which added a charming atmosphere to the fair; i.e. the music made people smile and generally be in good spirits.  The evening was rounded off with the Welcoming Dinner organised by PTPs Committee Members at the Fusion Restaurant which helped much to 'break the ice' between the various delegations and in all turned out to be a most pleasant evening for guests and organisers alike.


Sunday morning was dedicated to civic affairs, i.e. the Guild Mayor's Service at the Minster. Our foreign guests enjoyed the unique civic procession to the Minster, starting off at the Guild Hall and then winding its way through the streets of Preston with a marching band playing and leading the procession of the Guild Mayor and his Guild Mayoress in full regalia and all Officials in their civic fineries followed by other dignitaries and finally the ordinary guests all the way to the Minster. Walking through a Guard of Honour either side of the Minster's steps, made up of Armed Services Cadets and British Legion Veterans, proudly holding up their banners as the congregation passed between their ranks. A brief but nevertheless succinct sermon was given by the Archbishop of York which supplemented the wonderful Service provided by the incumbent Vicar of Preston most excellently. After the Service the procession re-assembled for the short stretch to the Guild Hall where lunch was served in the Grand Hall. The afternoon was spent visiting the 'shops' and generally relaxing in the sunshine.  Later on, all our 32 twin town 'auteurs', i.e. chefs, artists and musicians were invited by PTPs to a meal at Tiggis where each one of them received a certificate of Appreciation from the grateful PTPs Committee; whilst the civic representatives assembled at the Charter Theatre for a piano recital, organised by UCLan and a leading PTPs Committee Member, given by the internationally known French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. The audience listened spellbound to pieces by Beethoven, Debussy and Liszt. The reception/dinner afterwards in the Guild Hall Restaurant was very enjoyable and afterwards our guests drifted tired and contently to their hotel, having had an eventful and happy day.


The Guild Court (an ancient tradition, resurrected at every Guild) was convened on Monday morning and this entailed a procession from the Town Hall to the Guild Hall with again, a band playing and the Mayor, Councillors and officials parading in all their 'splendour' to lend gravitas to the proceedings. Our foreign guests were a bit out of their depth and, I dare say, got into hibernation mode after a while whilst hundreds of Burgesses' names, past and present were, with good humour, read out by the Chief Executive. Our guests, however, behaved impeccably... being used, one assumes, to similar endless speeches back home. After a welcome lunch in the Guild Hall Lounge Bar, it was time again to take seats on the Civic Stand to watch the Church Procession a vibrant display of faith and conveying to us a sense of belonging to a community.  The Town Crier of Preston officiated most professionally as Master of Ceremonies and Toastmaster when the Guild Mayor and Mayoress joined us as guests of honour at our exceedingly well organised Celebration Dinner at the Westleigh Conference Centre. Our foreign guest felt right at home and enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and pleasant ambience. An exhibition of past Guilds' memorabilia gave a fascinating insight into fashions and styles in ages past and a curious item was a scale model of the Bus Station made from cake, ready to be eaten afterwards. An exchange of presents took place and Preston's gift to its twin towns was a large commemorative picture montage of important buildings in the respective partner towns and Preston. Because of the size of the picture, the transportation of these bulky items to each foreign destination was arranged by currier through Preston City Council.  Before this convivial gathering came to an end, a raffle with really good prizes provided by generous benefactors was held; with the main prize being an Armani wrist watch won by one of the delegates from Recklinghausen. He was delighted.


On Tuesday, the Polish delegation was hosted for lunch at a committee member's home and in the afternoon, the Guild Mayor took the Dutch and German delegates on a tour of the Harris Museum. This turned out to be a fascinating and impressive event due to the sheer variety of exhibits and the rich collection of paintings in the august surroundings of Preston's cultural gem. In the early evening, the Guild Mayor hosted an International Reception in the Guild Hall for all people who, from all over the world, had come home to Preston to celebrate the Guild of 2012. We assembled our twin town visitors in the Foyer of the Guild Hall to give them the much needed opportunity to network and get to know their opposite numbers.  To round off a very pleasant evening, the Guild Mayor invited the delegations to the "Black Horse Pub" for a Fish'n Chips Dinner, caringly prepared by the landlord and his helpers. Our guests were at first intrigued when the meals arrived wrapped in an outward layer of newsprint but, after initial hesitation, put their knives and forks away and merrily dug in with their fingers like the rest of us and really enjoyed the unusual treat, washed down with generous helpings of English Ale.


Whilst in the Black Horse pub, the lady delegate from Recklinghausen had taken off her very valuable gold and diamond ring (a 'thank you' token from her husband on giving birth to their fourth child) to wash her hands and, after having eventually returned to the hotel, found out with a horrific shock, that she had left the ring behind on the washbasin. The pub had closed by then after all, it was well beyond normal closing time, and so she was absolutely frantic and felt sick with an acute sense of loss, frustration and helplessness. She should not have worried; the pub workers found the ring and to her immense relief returned it to her at the earliest opportunity. This amazing demonstration of honesty and decency contributed very much to our visitor's positive impression of their host country and left us, as the organisers, with a warm feeling of gratitude and pride in our fellow citizens.


Alas, all good things come to an end; and so the Wednesday was the day of departure for the three remaining delegations, the French having already left very early on Monday morning.

Members of the PTPs committee made sure that the delegations were hosted for lunch in private homes. It can be said that those occasions were very happy and enjoyable events for all concerned.


The Preston Twinning Partnerships volunteers were well pleased that after long months of planning, preparations and frequent changes, their hard work had paid off with an incident free, successful and memorable end-result; heartily endorsed in writing by our twin town friends and partners on their return home.

This proves indeed that, although Friendship is spelt in many different ways, Freundschaft  Amiti Przyja Vriendschap in the end it really means the same thing





Roll on Preston Guild 2032 !



J rgen O H Voges


Preston Twinning Partnerships

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Chairman Derek Smith, Secretary Jürgen O. H. Voges, Treasurer Christine Bradbrook, Communications Dave Collier