During celebrations in Reutlingen to mark the half-century anniversary, Barbara Bosch, the lord mayor of the university city in south west Germany, and the Mayor of Ellesmere Port, Peter Rooney, reaffirmed the friendship ties between their two towns.
The ceremony celebrating the twinning took place in Reutlingen Town Hall itself, celebrating 50 years since its own inauguration.
The Ellesmere Port/Reutlingen Friendship Group, which was created in 2010 to continue the historic ties, said after returning to the UK: “The document of friendship signed before the referendum is valid regardless of the situation in which we find ourselves today.”
Over the last 50 years around 6,400 English and German students are said to have taken part in the exchanges between the two towns, ‘a figure both towns can be very proud of’.
Frau Boch stressed: “More than ever before the future generation will be expected to deal, both professionally and privately, with living in and visiting foreign countries.
“International experience and a knowledge of foreign languages are key competences in a globalised society.
“Exchange programmes offer an outstanding opportunity for pupils to practise how to approach people from other countries and learn from them, how to develop an understanding of other personal and political attitudes and thus learn to tolerate very different views.”
She added: “We should also not forget the European Union is an unprecedented project for promoting an understanding between nations, including Great Britain and Germany. I hope very much that the encounters in this special anniversary year will inspire all of us and many other people besides to champion the wonderful friendship between Ellesmere Port and Reutlingen.”
Cllr Rooney reminded those present of the minutes of the 1957 Ellesmere Port Council meeting which recorded that a twinning arrangement ‘will lead to a deeper, natural understanding between our two countries and foster international goodwill which is so essential to the cause of world peace’.
He added; “The hopes and challenges noted by the Ellesmere Port Council 50 years ago are as relevant today as they were then.”
The ceremony in Reutlingen was entertained by musicians from the University Church of England Academy led by Gary Mercer while pupils from Ellesmere Port Catholic High and their partners from the Frederick-List Gymnasium in Reutlingen presented a report into the value of twinning and its future.
MP Justin Madders had been due to be present but at the last moment joined Ellesmere Port’s vigil to mark the tragic death of Jo Cox MP.