A group from Oxfordshire attended an event in Germany to celebrate 40 years since the official twinning of two towns.

A delegation from Bicester, which included Mayor Alex Thrupp, former mayor Nick Mawer, Chairman of Bicester Town Council Richard Mould and Vice Chair of Bicester and District Twinning Association Val Pearce, made a trip to Germany to celebrate forty years since Bicester’s twinning with German town Neunkirchen-Seelscheid.

Arriving at the town on Thursday, May 26, the cohort from Oxfordshire met with their German counterparts to embark on a 4-day anniversary programme.

The activities included a tour of Cologne’s Grand Harbour, a three-hour cruise on The Rhine and a festive dinner to finish the trip.

In addition, the group set out to hike the Friendship Trail, a 7km walk opened by Neunkirchen-Seelscheid’s mayor Mrs Berka to mark the fortieth anniversary.

Val Pearce, Vice Chair of Bicester and District Twinning Association said: “This twinning, and all the relationships it encompasses, have survived 40 years.

“It doesn’t cost anything to form a bond like this between two towns. The family we stayed with when we first visited Neunkirchen-Seelscheid are still very close friends of ours.

“Their children have grown up and have children of their own now. They come here, we go there, we even buy each other presents.

“They are so deep in our hearts now.”

The twinning proposal was first put forward by Councillor John Hollis of Bicester, who spent time in Germany in the decades following World War II.

Mrs Pearce, who was an original committee member present at the inaugural twinning event in 1982 in Neinkirchen-Seelscheid, said: “When we had our first visits, five coaches of people arrived in Bicester from Germany.

“We got them all accommodated with local families. When we went over to Germany, we took three coaches.

“That’s how great this partnership was.”

In addition to its German twinning, Bicester is twinned with Czernichov, Poland, and Essarts-en-Bocage in France.

The mayors of both these towns were present at the fortieth anniversary celebration in Germany.    

Mrs Pearce said: “Next year marks the thirty-year anniversary with our French twin, and the twentieth anniversary with our Polish twin.

“Knowing that our Polish twin town is helping to house Ukrainians who have fled the war is great.

“The mayor of Czernichov has three Ukrainian refugees living in his house.

“The town itself is housing around 500 refugees, and we’re so proud of them.

“Bicester Town Council and Bicester and District Twinning Association also donated money to representatives of Czernichov at the meeting in Germany.

“We’re all doing what we can to help those fleeing the war”


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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