CIVIC dignitaries from Düsseldorf will visit Reading at the end of this week for a series of celebrations and events to mark the 70th anniversary of the friendship links between the two towns.
The link was instigated in 1947 after the Second World War, by the then Mayor of Reading Phoebe Cusden. This week, Reading’s current Mayor Cllr Rose Williams will welcome The Lord Mayor of Düsseldorf, Oberbürgermeister Thomas Geisel and representatives from Düsseldorf City Council. It’s a special celebration for Cllr Williams who was Mayor of Reading 20 years ago when the friendship celebrated its 50th anniversary.
The Mayor of Reading and the Oberbürgermeister will re-affirm the link at a Civic meeting on Thursday night, in front of members of the Reading Düsseldorf Association and Reading and Düsseldorf Churches Interchange, representatives from the groups in Reading who currently carry out twinning exchanges, and guests from Düsseldorf itself who have travelled to Reading for this weekend.
In addition, Phoebe’s grandson Richard Thom will be attending the event, together with June Whitcombe, who’s family hosted one of the first children from Düsseldorf, and many Civic guests.
There will also be an opportunity to view a new Exhibition at The Town Hall, about Phoebe Cusden, put together by local photographer and historian, Chris Forsey. This exhibition will move to Central Library from the beginning of August.
Earlier in the day the delegation will meet with local business leaders and Reading UK CIC at Thames Tower; before being welcomed to The Mayor’s Parlour by a choir from Thameside Primary School.
On Friday the German delegation and Cllr Williams will visit the John Madejski Academy to meet Reading students preparing to visit Düsseldorf in October. They will then be taken on a tour of the Madejski Stadium – the home of Reading FC and a driving tour of Green Park to learn more about the businesses based there.
During the evening the party heads to Reading’s Fringe Festival for performances by local and Düsseldorf artists.
On Sunday, at 2pm, there will be a special afternoon church service at Reading Minster conducted by Revd Stephen Pullen, assisted by clergy from both Reading and Düsseldorf.
Cllr Williams said: “I’m very much looking forward to welcoming our friends from Dusseldorf back to Reading for this special celebration. Seventy years is a long time in anyone’s book and for the links between our two towns to have stayed in place and strengthened over those seven decades is a wonderful achievement. It’s a testimony to the work done by the Reading-Dusseldorf Association and to their commitment to continuing the links”
Cllr Jo Lovelock, Leader of the Council, said: “We are living in a very fast changing world where our relationship with countries across Europe are being discussed and making news every day, so I think it’s vitally important we celebrate and cherish our links with Düsseldorf. Over the last 70 years hundreds and hundreds of people in both our countries have been enriched by these links. We’ve learned about other people’s way of life and that has strengthened our understanding of each other. It’s so important we hold on to this as we look to the future”
Note to editors:
The friendship between Reading and Düsseldorf started after the Second World War in 1947. Major General Jack Collins, Colonel of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, was stationed in the Rhineland and appealed to councils in Berkshire to adopt and aid towns of the Rhineland devastated by heavy bombing.
Phoebe Cusden, the then Mayor of Reading, travelled to Düsseldorf to see the situation for herself. On her return, she rallied support from residents and arranged food parcels clothing and toys to go to the area. She also arranged for friends to offer hospitality for three months to an undernourished Düsseldorf child and the following year, 25 children came to Reading and 60 children went to Düsseldorf that summer.
These regular exchanges have continued right up to today and are supported by the Reading Düsseldorf Association, which has been in existence since 1948.
Photos will be added to the website shortly.
For more information contact:
Rachel Dennis 0118 937 3957
Debi Daniels 0118 937 2358