Town twinning is not just for jollies
I MUST reply to the letter from Nigel Edward-Few, published in the Examiner of July 16 concerning Chesham and its twin towns. (Town twinning – the horror).
As secretary of Chesham Town Twinning Association I, along with my association colleagues, am constantly correcting the popular misconception that we exist as an organisation to “provide jollies for dignitaries.”
When the association was formed, in 1979, our first chairman, the late Pauline Wilkinson, pledged that we would not be a burden on the rates, but would pay our way. Only once since then have we asked the town council for a small grant, which was approved, and that was many years ago
We have a hard-working committee devoted purely to organising fundraising events and such has been its success that all group entertaining of our visitors from our three twin towns has come from that money raised, mainly from our own members.
All our members taking part in exchange visits pay their own way to Germany, France and Spain, and that includes any councillors, such as town mayors, who join us on these annual visits.
Dignitaries? I imagine the young footballers who represented the town in three-way tournaments some years ago, along with the gymnasts who took part in similar tournaments for many years, the musicians, artists and many others who join us on exchanges, would be delighted to be thought of as “dignitaries”, as would our own members, all of whom pay their own way
We are grateful for one aspect of town council co-operation and that is the free use of a room at the Town Hall four times a year for meetings of our association committee.
Now, I must stress that we have not been involved in any talks over the possible twinning with a town in Pakistan, about which we have been made aware by former town mayor Mo Fayyaz. We have told him, and the town council, that we have our hands full trying to maintain our existence, with our membership at its lowest level for years and difficulty in finding new people to take on officer roles.
The cost of visiting our current twin towns increases year by year and that of making regular visits to Pakistan would be very much higher.
We do not oppose any move suggested by Councillor Fayyaz, but have stressed to him, and to the town council, that it must be run by a separate organisation from within the Pakistani community in Chesham. Advice we can give, time we cannot.
And can we please put an end to the “jollies” on the rates thinking. That may be the case in some cities and towns, but in Chesham, in respecting the wishes of our late founder-chairman, it does not and will not apply.
TONY WHITE Secretary, Chesham Town Twinning Association