Hedge End Town Council have declined an invitation to twin the Town with Möckmühl in Germany.
The Town Council received an unsolicited invitation to twin with Möckmühl last year (2011), subsequently met with representatives from Möckmühl when they were in the UK and went to visit Möckmühl 12 months ago (Dec 2011).
That particular trip was at the Town Councillors own expense, but in January 2012, the Full Council approved a motion that would enable Town Councillors to be re-imbursed for Travel and Subsistence costs incurred on business outside the boundaries of Hedge End.
Hedge End Town Council have subsequently considered whether formal twinning was a viable proposition, bearing in mind that the existing twinning arrangement with Comines-Warneton in Belgium has fizzled out to nothing, the only activity these days being the occasional replacement of the road-signs that announce the formal twinning between the two Towns…
Eastleigh News understands that the representatives from Möckmühl have now been informed of the Town Council’s decision not to proceed with formal twinning. The Town Council explained that because the local Secondary School already had a twinning arrangement and didn’t want to establish a second one, the idea of twinning Hedge End with Möckmühl, sadly, was unviable.
One of the representatives from Möckmühl, Elke Lüdeke, has kindly explained the situation for Eastleigh News. She says;
I am deputy headmistress at our school which is a Realschule and an English teacher here.
Together with a colleague we started visits to England for our 9th formers in 1989. As we had been to Southampton before attending teachers’ courses at the Southampton English Language Centre we got some help from the teachers there. We chose several families on two visits there and then we could start.
In the meantime we have been to Southampton 23 times. As we do not have a partner school we have the families who accommodate our students for 9 days every October.
The Mayor of Möckmühl got to know that and asked me if I could find a town in England as a twin town. We already have two twin towns, one in Italy and one in Hungary the languages of both are not taught at the schools here. So it is more or less a twinning between the communities although we regularly have exchange visits with the schools there.
So I searched the internet for possible towns in England that would match. But each of these towns is already twinned with towns in Germany, France or other countries. Then I came up with Hedge End, because that is where the teachers are staying every year and I thought it would be nice.
So I again found the e-mail address of Hedge End council on the Internet and wrote a mail to Kevin [n.b. the Town Clerk, Kevin Glynn-Davies] who answered within two days.
When the Mayor then asked me last year if he could come with us to have a look I agreed and so we had the first talks in Hedge End.
Jane Welsh, Kevin and the other council members were very, very friendly and we felt at home at once.
Our Mayor invited the council members to come to Möckmühl in December and I had the feeling they really liked it here, although the weather was not very nice.
And the people of Möckmühl who came in contact with them (it was our Christmas market at that weekend) were also very excited about the English visitors. But Jane and Kevin also said that most of the twinning would depend on Wildern School as they already have a partnership with Kornwestheim.
Then the twinning had to go through the meetings of the councils.
The members in Möckmühl agreed and were planning a trip to Hedge End, but unfortunately they didn’t hear anything from England. And then the bad news reached us that the council had declined the twinning.
I must say I am a bit sad and disappointed anyway, but this year we met Jane and Kevin again and it was a very nice visit.
Jane even was a friend in need this year because we had to move two girls and we didn’t have any other family left, so Jane took the two girls and they liked it enormously.
From my words that we have come to Southampton for 23 years now, you will see that we like the area very much.
And it is quite convenient for us as we are taking our students on trips to show them a bit of the English countryside and culture, and as they are staying with English host families they also get to know the English way of life a bit.
Therefore the twinning would have been nice, but things can’t be changed.
As far as I know our Mayor is still looking for another town in England to twin with.
The current leader of Hedge End Town Council, Cllr Louise Bloom, has added;
Without Wildern School a twinning won’t work and they are fully committed with Kornwestheim. We intend to keep an informal municipal link but that’s all. A pity but there you are.
No money has been spent, as you know, except maybe on coffee and cakes when we had some visitors here…
If any schools/towns would like to get in touch with Elke Lüdeke and the Mayor of Möckmühl regarding a formal exchange/twinning arrangement, please contact Eastleigh News or Hedge End Town Council.