READING’S Mayor, Debs Edwards, further strengthened the bond of friendship between Düsseldorf and Reading, with a visit to the German town at the end of June.
The visit celebrated the 30th anniversary of Reading’s official twinning with Düsseldorf in 1977 and the special friendship between the towns that stretches back 71 years to just after the WW2, in Christmas 1946, when the then mayor, Phoebe Cusden, saw the devastation in Germany and invited young people to stay in Reading. This represents the longest friendship between two towns/cities in Europe.
The celebrations opened on Friday 29th June with an evening reception where Reading’s mayor, alongside the mayor of Düsseldorf, and mayors from Haifa (in Israel) and Chemnitz (southwest Saxony), gathered together to celebrate their friendship and important cross-cultural links with Düsseldorf.
Cllr Edwards signed the city’s Golden Book for distinguished visitors, before enjoying an outdoor festival of lights, attended by over 10,000 local residents and visitors.
During the weekend visit, the Mayor also visited the opening of a special exhibition “To Düsseldorf with Love” at the Café Europa near the Rathaus (the seat of local government in Düsseldorf), of about 500 postcards sent to the city by friends from around the world, over 50 of which were sent from Reading.
The mayor also visited an exhibition of street art, produced co-operatively by artists from Reading and Düsseldorf, all of whom will be taking part in the Reading Fringe Festival later this month.
Reading’s Mayor, Cllr Debs Edwards, said: “The special connection between our two cities began with our former Mayor Phoebe Cusden, who initiated the exchange of young people in 1947. Phoebe Cusden is still highly regarded by Dusseldorf and her endeavours to help and support the city has never been forgotten.
“Since then our twinning has enabled a multitude of friendships to blossom. I am delighted to be able to carry on the long history of our friendship and co-operation, built up and supported by the Reading Düsseldorf Association, during my year of office.
“We have already had a very successful student exchange this summer, with 11 students from Dusseldorf working with a variety of companies in Reading. I’m also very excited to see the fantastic cultural exchange that will take place during Reading’s Fringe Festival this month, with a whole host of talented artists, actors and musicians from Düsseldorf taking part in the festival.”
Reading Fringe Festival, which runs from 24th to 29th July, will further strengthen the important cultural link between Reading and Düsseldorf, by featuring several performers from Düsseldorf, including KJ263, an urban artist who will be creating a bespoke work for Reading and conceptual installation work by Düsseldorf based photographer Susanne Diesner.
Other performers from Düsseldorf include Blue Goat Theatre, an English-speaking theatre company, performing their comedy J’n’R; acoustic band, One Eye Open; choreographer and dancer, Maura Morales; Reading/Düsseldorf Jazz Ensemble featuring trumpet superstar Stuart Henderson and Düsseldorf-based guitarist Arturo Castro Nogueras.
This year Reading also hosted 11 students from the Lore-Lorentz-Schule in Dusseldorf to work with a variety of companies in the borough over a 3 week period from 18th June – 6th July.
The students worked with the Henley Business School, Hilton Reading, Reading Borough Council, Reading College, Reading UK CIC and the University of Reading (two at the Institute of Education and one with Estates Management).
The Reading Dusseldorf Association held a presentation evening in the Mayor’s Parlour where the students got to present to the employers, host families and members of the Association on their work placements and their impressions of Reading.
Photos of the visit available for download here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmn226hD
Find out more about the Fringe events listing here: https://readingfringefestival.co.uk/whats-on/
Reading Düsseldorf Association
The Reading Düsseldorf Association promotes the friendship between Reading and Düsseldorf in Germany. Probably the oldest Anglo-German civic friendship, it began at Christmas 1946 when the Mayor of Reading, Phoebe Cusden, appealed for help for people in Düsseldorf suffering from hunger and homelessness after the Second World War. She visited Düsseldorf in 1947, and a group of six Düsseldorf children stayed in Reading for three months in 1948. Since then, many individuals and groups in both places have exchanged visits and made personal friendships. Later, the link became a formal twinning.
The friendship has strong backing from Reading Borough Council and from Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf (the City Council), but the Reading Düsseldorf Association is funded by its members. It holds meetings and social events to raise money and to spread information about the friendship.
Find out more at www.reading-dusseldorf.org.uk