Group now 50 but is not set to say auf wiedersehen yet

A TOWN-twinning organisation plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year by drawing up plans for more exchange visits.

Blyth Citizen Exchange Group was set up in 1962 to promote friendship and goodwill between the town and the German city of Solingen in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Every two years, more than 30 people take part in exchange trips organised by the group and its German sister organisation, and members of the organisation, accompanied by representatives of Blyth Town Council, will be returning to Solingen in May to mark the milestone anniversary.

In turn, the group will welcome a German party to Blyth in July to reaffirm the charter for town twinning originally signed back in the 1960s.

The German visitors will also be treated to a trip to Seaton Delaval Hall, St Mary’s Island and Seahouses.

Exchange group official Brian Dawson said: “This group is dedicated to continuing building on the friendship between the towns of Blyth and Solingen as a result of the long-standing twinning that has existed between us.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of the two towns being twinned and our group and members of Blyth Town Council are planning a trip to Solingen in May and then our friends from Solingen are coming to visit us in July.

“There will be organised celebrations and events in both locations.”

The twin town sign in Solingen was unveiled in 1996 by Blyth mayor Jim Clough and Solingen obermeister Gerd Kaimer.

Mr Kaimer went on to be made a freeman of Blyth Valley in 1998 for his services and commitment to the town.

Margaret Watson, the Blyth group’s chairman, said the links built up between people in Blyth and their opposite numbers in Germany had helped break down cultural barriers and led to friendships that had lasted for years.

“We’re a group of people who are all like-minded,” she said.

“We go out and visit them, and they come out and visit us every two years.

“It is all about understanding each other’s cultural differences.”