In celebration of 70 years of partnership between Stuttgart and St Helens, over 80 visitors from the German town will be visiting St Helens between 5-9 July.
The twinning between the two towns dates back to 1948 and was particularly special as it was the first such partnership to be formed in Europe following World War Two.
As a leading manufacturer of glass, St Helens was able to support the rebuilding of Stuttgart, parts of which had been destroyed or damaged by bombing during the conflict.
Included within the delegation is Stuttgart’s Deputy Mayor, Dr Martin Schairer, along with councillors from the main political parties; CDU (Christian Democratic Union), Bündis 90/Die Grunen (Alliance 90/The Greens), SÖS-LINKE-PluS, and Freie Wahler (Free Voters).
The remainder of the 80 visitors is made up of representatives from the council; Kaufmӓnnische Schule (KS1), a business school; Stuttgart University; two high schools, the Leibniz Gymnasium and the Ferdinand-Porsche-Gymnasium; and a football team, TSV Uhlbach.
All delegates will be attending St Helens’ International Food and Drink Festival (6-7 July) as part of the borough’s 150th anniversary celebrations, as well as Cowley International College and a tree planting ceremony at Victoria Park.
Councillor Andy Bowden, Cabinet Member for Balanced Development, Housing and Economic Opportunity, with responsibility for Town Twinning, said:
“This is a really special occasion for St Helens and Stuttgart, and I know residents will join us in warmly welcoming our visitors to the borough. 70 years ago, we led Europe by example following World War II in forming this historic relationship, and we continue to value our close friendship.
“Regardless of what the future holds for the UK’s relationship with Europe, St Helens’ twinning partnerships with Stuttgart – and indeed Chalon-sur-Saone in France – are a productive way of fostering long-term friendships between people from different countries, opening up opportunities to share ideas and good practice, and of course to celebrate what makes each of us unique. And we in St Helens look forward to reinvigorating our relationship, not just culturally or through sport, but through business as well.”
The International Food and Drink Festival in Church Square is truly embracing the twinning partnership. Special St Helens-Stuttgart anniversary wines have been produced as well as some traditional German food, all of which will be available at the festival.
And for fans of real ale, a special beer will also be available following its creation by Dinkelacker, a 130-year-old family-run Stuttgart brewery and popular local brewers Connoisseur Ales. The 4.1 per cent ale is called ‘Siebzig’ meaning ‘70.’
Also on Friday, visiting exchange students from Ferdinand-Porsche-Gymnasium Zuffenhausen (FPGZ) in Stuttgart, along with St Helens’ officials, are invited to a student-run baking session at Cowley International College, the produce of which will be sold at the International Food and Drink Festival.
Both countries’ students have also developed colouring books and designed flags which will be handed out at the festival.
The long-standing and successful relationship between the two schools has been maintained through a regular exchange programme.
Other events on the itinerary include visits to Dream, the World of Glass museum and, in the spirit of the World Cup, a friendly match between the visiting Stuttgart football team TSV Uhlbach and St Helens Town AFC at Ruskin Sports Village.
To commemorate the visit, Rhyannon Parry, who leads local arts company Yellow Door, has been commissioned to create a special plaque. Rhyannon will use her innovative laser cutting technique to develop the piece which will be presented by the Mayor of St Helens, Councillor Pat Ireland during the visit.
Other relationships of value between the two towns include St Helens Chamber and Kaufmaennische Schule 1 (Commercial School 1) as well as sports and leisure opportunities which offers places to St Helens runners in Stuttgart’s annual half marathon and to swimmers, in their annual swimming gala.
It’s not the only celebration for Stuttgart this year as they are actually celebrating three twinning anniversaries – 70 years with St Helens, 50 years with Mumbai, India and 20 years with Lodz in Poland.
Only last month, Stuttgart held a “Twin Towns in Action Day” with all ten of their twin towns represented. St Helens attended with an information stall as well as breakdancing group UC Crew and Cowley International College Choir who performed in Stuttgart City Centre.
For more information on the St Helens 150 events programme, visit www.sthelens150.co.uk
Main photo – Flag artwork created in collaboration between Cowley International College and Stuttgart school pupils.