You are browsing archive : 2018

Falkland Islands Presentation

November 25 2018

The speakers at our meeting on Tuesday 13th November were OA members Kathryn Grainger and Neil Clark. Invited to the Falkland Islands to provide live music and meet up with Neil's pupils there who are learning to play bagpipes online, the trip proved to be an uplifting and moving experience, well worth the long journey from RAF Brize Norton. Kathryn and Neil shared their music in schools, ran a series of music workshops, and performed at two ceilidhs, as well as visiting some of the memorial sites for soldiers who died during the Falklands Conflict, several of them Neil’s comrades. Despite their hectic event programme, there was time for sightseeing and appreciating the wild life, including a variety of species of really cute penguins. Neil even managed to fit in one of his marathons! The slideshow included photos of magnificent white beaches and stunning blue seas, very reminiscent of our Outer Hebrides landscapes, and a poignant shot of Neil playing the pipes on Tumbledown Mountain. The Falklands War is still part of the islanders’ lives; for instance, there are still minefields to be de-mined 36 years later. We all learned a lot from this most interesting and enjoyable talk.

Next Meeting Tuesday 13 November

November 11 2018

Our next meeting will be held on Tuesday 13th November at 7 p.m. in the Committee Suite, Municipal Buildings, Falkirk, FK1 5RS, when two of our members, Neil Clark and Kathryn Grainger, will be talking about their trip to the Falkland Islands. There will be the usual refreshments and a fundraising raffle (donations of prizes welcome).

Open Evening Wednesday 10th October

October 07 2018

The first meeting of the new session will be an Open Evening in Room A, the Committee Suite, Municipal Buildings, Falkirk, FK1 5RS, on Wednesday 10th October at 7 p.m.  Please note change of day - the room was not available for the Tuesday. There will be photos from the recent trip to the Odenwald, German style refreshments, a fundraising raffle, and news about all the events coming up in 2018- 2019.  There are some bottles left over from Airth Games so no need to bring raffle prizes!  New members and interested parties are always welcome.  Bis bald!

Twinning conference report

September 19 2018

A report of proceedings at the recent Twinning Conference is reproduced below

Report on Twinning Conference held on Wednesday, 22nd August 2018

in the Municipal Buildings, Falkirk

Attendees :-

Odenwald Association (Falkirk area/Odenwald region, Germany) – Walter Simms (Chair), Gray Allan (Vice-Chair), Anne Simms (Secretary), Charles Tibbles – Treasurer), Andy Christie (former Chair), Isabella Allan, Lynda Kenna (Executive Committee member), Greg McCarra, Sylvia Koenig-Erich, Christine Webster

Falkirk District Twinning Association (Falkirk/Créteil) – Elaine Mitchell

Haddington Twinning Association (Haddington/Aubigny sur Nère – Andrew Wilson (Treasurer), Marine Baron (student from Aubigny), Ailsa Wrinn (student from Haddington)

Bathgate/Cran-Gevrier Twinning Association– Christine Calder (Chair), Lorna Kerwin (Secretary)

Linlithgow Twinning Association (Linlithgow/Guyancourt) – Gaynor Parry (Chair), Ian Donaldson (past Chair and Founder of the Association), Heather Laing (Committee member)

West Lothian Twinning Association (West Lothian/Hochsauerland) – Jim Clark, Edgar Liddle (Treasurer)


Walter Simms welcomed everyone to the Conference, explaining that the idea of local twinning organisations coming together in some way originated from the OA’s own discussions about promotion and publicity, and the recent referendum decision to leave the EU. He then handed over to John Swan who had agreed to facilitate the meeting.

John outlined the aims for the evening which were to share best practice, improve effectiveness, and look to the future of twinning post-Brexit, by concentrating discussions on the challenges of Membership, Funding, and Promotion. He then invited each group to tell the meeting about their organisation.

A representative from each group gave a short history of their organisation, then told the meeting about their twinned town or region, four of them in France and two in Germany. The groups differed in the way they were funded, some having a lot of Council support, some relying on fundraising, some having social events, and some mainly coming together for business meetings. Exchange visits have included Burns Suppers, disabled clubs, pipe bands, and a range of sports. Each group faced the same challenges of recruiting new members and acquiring funding. However, it was clear that all the groups are made up of people with a passion for twinning, a love of their particular town or region, and a determination to keep their links going for as long as possible.

Group Discussions

The delegates split into four groups to discuss the topics for the evening.

Topic 1 – Ideas for Recruiting New Members

Use social media, website, Facebook, Twitter

Hold social events e.g. film nights, bingo and quiz nights

Man a stall at a local event or in local shopping centre

Promote your organisation to both young and older people – schools, dance groups, music groups, sports groups, church groups

Facilitate language exchanges e.g. for 5th/6th year pupils

Promote short visits to your twinning town/region

Encourage people to act as hosts here – they may then feel inspired to visit the town, and join the organisation

Exploit the “Outlander’ connection to increase interest in your twinning partner area

Topic 2 - Increasing Funding

Membership fees

Council support – either a fixed amount or a grant for a specific project

Corporate sponsorship e,g, with Tesco or a local business. If someone works for BP, they will match the funds you raise

Fundraising events – concerts, bingo and quiz nights, film night

Raffles, scratch cards, ‘100 club’ lottery, tombola

EU funding – will it dry up?

Lottery funding – usually for something specific, stringent criteria to meet – information about 1200 funds which support Scottish projects

Erasmus+ - aimed at schools, further and higher education, adult education, youth and sports organisations – could be useful for specific project

Topic 3 – Promoting your Organisation

Use social media, website, Facebook, Twitter, blog – keep it up to date with regular posts, tweets, etc.

Promotional materials – banners, business cards, leaflets, T shirts

Make use of local radio, newspapers

Hold fundraising events (banners and leaflets handy for these)

Have a stand at local events, take part in local festivals

Forge links with other local groups

Use your local library for exhibitions, posters and leaflets, encourage them to have a section on the town’s twinning areas

Take an empty shop unit for a week or even a month

Talk to groups, schools

Hold conversation classes

Word of mouth – talk to colleagues, family, friends

Article in Council newspaper, or ask Council PR/Marketing for help

Sharing Best Practice

John Swan invited each organisation to think of things that they did particularly well.

West Lothian Twinning Association teamed up with Bathgate/Cran-Gevrier

Successful running of social evenings including quiz nights

Outreach to under-21 groups (future-proofing)

Turning formal exchanges into personal friendships

Linlithgow Twinning Association

Home hosting to fully experience French/Scottish family life

No membership fees and open to everyone to join

Strong link with Linlithgow Folk Festival

Social media including Facebook page

Odenwald Association

Strong link with Airth Highland Games – mutually beneficial

Regular meetings and social events

Good promotional materials – OA share website with FDTA

Good relationship and regular communication with sister organisation in the Odenwald

Haddington Twinning Association and FDTA

A wide variety of exchanges - schools, pipe band, gardening

Sharing celebrations in Aubigny – Burns Suppers, Fêtes Franco-Ecossaises

Bringing French culture to Haddington – pétanque pitch

Penpals online


Most attendees thought that the session had been useful. Andy Christie of the OA suggested holding another conference, posibly hosted by another group. Again, most people agreed in principle, though no date was set.

Falkirk Herald coverage of the Twinning Conference

August 26 2018

The Odenwald Association hosted a conference for local twinning groups in the Municipal Buildings, Falkirk on Wednesday, 22nd August.  Representatives from six groups (including the OA) came together to discuss challenges and share strategies to improve recruitment, funding, and promotion.  It was interesting to find out how each group operates, and very encouraging to discover how passionate everyone is about twinning, even after years of voluntary service to their organisation.  The conference concluded that it is even more important now, in the light of Brexit, to maintain close links with our European friends.

A full report of the event will be published in due course. Meanwhile, you can read some coverage of the event from the Falkirk Herald here 

2018 Annual General Meeting Tuesday 10 April

April 04 2018

The Association's AGM will be held on Tuesday, 10th April at 7.00 p.m. in the Committee Suite, Municipal Buildings, Falkirk, FK1 5RS.

Instead of bringing prizes for a raffle, you are requested to bring along contributions for the Bottle Stall at Airth Highland Games in May - any sort of bottle is acceptable, alcohol, soft drinks, shampoo, bath foam, etc. 

You are welcome to join us.

Report of OA Meeting 13 March 2018

March 17 2018

At our meeting of Tuesday, 13th March, Elaine Mitchell, Chairperson of Falkirk District Twinning Association,  (FDTA) and former Secretary of the Odenwald Association, came along with three other members of the FDTA, Councillor Pat Reid, Ian Burt, and Laura McEwan, to talk to us about the twinning link with Créteil, a large town to the south-east of Paris. The Métro takes only 40 minutes to get from Créteil into the centre of Paris, and Eurodisney is not far away, which proves especially popular with the high school pupils.

Elaine gave us a short overview of the town, with its 95,000 inhabitants of mixed ethnicity, and showed photos of the old town and the newer, very modern buildings. Other photos showed exchange visits to Falkirk and Créteil.

Pat then told us about the history of the twinning link, which began in the early 1980’s, and was intended from the start to involve the ordinary people from both communities, as well as more official representatives. Since then, there have been all sorts of exchanges with disabled groups, sports teams, dancers, musicians, schools, and even two marriages!

Ian shared some amusing personal anecdotes with us and emphasised the benefits of twinning for all concerned, e.g. friendships and language development, for adults and children alike.

Laura, Modern Languages teacher at Graeme High, told us how her twinning experiences began as an exchange student, and all about the five visits she has since led to Créteil, for occasions like the popular Fête de Juin. She is hoping for even stronger links in the future as a result of the new initiative between the Scottish Parliament and the Institut Français.

The Wee Tree Theatre will be heading over there soon, and a staff member from Denny Library will be visiting the new Médiathèque. During questions from the floor, Councillor Spears took the opportunity to point out that twinning organisations like ours are in a good position to promote Falkirk as a tourist destination, and that tourism brings quite a lot of money into the area.

Our Chairman, Walter,  thanked Elaine and the team for a most interesting and insightful talk. Members then enjoyed a mix of French and German snacks, including crusty baguette with garlic cheese, and madeleine cakes.

2018 OA Meeting Tuesday 13 March

March 11 2018

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 13th March at 7.00 p.m. in Room A, the Committee Suite, Municipal Buildings, Falkirk FK1 5RS. 

Our speakers will be Elaine Michell and other members of the Falkirk District Twinning Association  (FDTA), who will talk about their twinning link with Créteil in France.  There will be refreshments and a fund-raising raffle.   

We look forward to a good turn out of members for this talk about Falkirk's other Twinning partnership.

Talk by Christine Bell: Cycling Without Age

February 14 2018

 Christine Bell gave us a very informative, emotive and uplifting talk about the charitable project Cycling Without Age.

Cycling Without Age, Falkirk, grew out of another organisation, Communities Along the Carron, which was set up originally to clear a short stretch of the River Carron of litter in 2008.  With encouragement from Falkirk Council, the group began to tidy up along the whole river, and now works to educate the local community, especially schoolchildren, about the dangerous effects of litter on wildlife, and by involving them in projects like bridge improvements and re-stocking the river with fish, teaches them to respect their environment.

After receiving funding for a special project, and wishing to include older residents in the river improvements, the group heard about Cycling Without Age which had been set up in Copenhagen in 2012 by Ole Kassow to take elderly care home residents out and about on a trishaw.  From this small beginning has blossomed a movement which now operates in 37 countries.  Christine and her team liked what they found out about it and decided to set up a similar project in Falkirk.  Residents at Carrondale Care Home agreed to act as ‘guinea pigs’ for an initial trial which proved to be a great success.  One young volunteer in particular , Fraser, was instrumental in setting up the scheme and received a lot of valuable media attention as well as a Pride of Britain Award.  

With involvement from the Scottish Government, the Falkirk team are now helping other towns in Scotland to set up their own programmes, some of which should be up and running by April 2018.  They can help with insurance, risk assessments, buying and maintaining the bikes which come from Copenhagen and cost about £7,000.

The Falkirk branch now has about 40 volunteers, some of whom have never volunteered before.  Christine’s talk, which she illustrated with slides and videos, emphasised the benefits for passengers and volunteers alike, the opportunity to get out into the fresh air and feel the “wind in your hair”, stimulating company, sharing stories and songs, and feeling part of the community once more.

There is always room for more volunteers.   Anyone interested should contact

2018 13 February, Notice of Meeting: Change of Venue

January 23 2018

The next meeting of the Association will be on Tuesday, 13 February 2018 at 7.00 p.m.

We are delighted to have Christine Bell from "Falkirk Cycling Without Age", to give a talk on this exciting new initiative. 

Please note that the venue, for this meeting only, will be, The Tolbooth Tavern, Tolbooth Street, Falkirk FK1 1NL. (Beside The Steeple)

2018 January: OA Annual Dinner

January 10 2018

Instead of a formal meeting, 17 members of the Association enjoyed the Annual Dinner held in The Cladhan Hotel, Falkirk.  The combination of good food and good company ensured an enjoyable evening and successful start to the New Year for the Association.

See Gallery

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, 13th February. More details later.