Aberystwyth Rotary Club's recent meeting started with a decision to donate £590 of the club’s funds to Shelter Box, in support of families affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

The guest speaker at the meeting was Chris Simpson who spoke about town twinning, in particular the relationship between Aberystwyth and Kronberg in Germany.

Aberystwyth has a long established history of twinning, the Kronberg link was initiated in 1968 by school exchanges between Ardwyn Grammar School and Altkönigschule in Kronberg. In 1973 Aberystwyth twinned with Saint-Brieuc, 2009 saw links formed with Esquel in Patagonia and in 2016 Arklow in the Republic of Ireland twinned with Aberystwyth.

Town twinning offers numerous benefits including fostering international friendship, educational and cultural development and financial gain which accrues from spending by visitors.

Originally, Aberystwyth’s twinning activities were overseen by the town council and formal links were established with Kronberg in 1997. In 2003, however, the council relinquished its direct role and the responsibility was passed on to an independent, voluntary, association – Aberystwyth Kronberg Twinning (AKT). AKT includes some council representatives and benefits from an annual grant of £1,500 from the council.

Kronberg invites the mayors of the four twinned towns to attend a celebration of twinning before its Christmas market starts in early December. The market is made up of stalls from all the clubs and societies in Kronberg together with stalls from the four twin towns. The objective is to publicise activities and raise money; there are no commercial stallholders, which gives the Kronberg Market a special character.

A reception for all the mayors and visitors from the twinned partners is held on the Friday evening before the start of the Kronberg Christmas Market. Musical performances feature prominently on these occasions and Aberystwyth has contributed handsomely to them. Over the years the Penglais School Choir, the Brass Band, the singing group Sgarmes and numerous solo artists from Aberystwyth have performed in Kronberg.

Aberystwyth mans its own stall at the Kronberg Christmas Market which, in the past, has featured local Welsh foodstuffs such as cheeses, bara brith and Welsh cakes. Sadly, however, Brexit has put paid to this, but it is gratifying to note that, despite this setback, the social and cultural links still thrive.

Following an informative and enjoyable talk, which led to a number of questions from the floor, club president Hywel Davies thanked Chris for his valued contribution.

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