March 18 2020
We were very pleased to welcome Mrs. Barbara Quick, the German Consul for Scotland and the North of England, to our meeting on Tuesday, 10th March. Mrs. Quick, who took over the post in July 2019, gave us a very interesting talk about her career to date, and the work of the Consulate in supporting the 30,000 plus Germans who live in Scotland, and, as the voice of Germany in Britain, promoting the political, economic, and cultural links between our countries. She was adamant that, despite Brexit, Germany and the U.K. would remain close, saying that the U.K. has left the EU but has not left Europe. She was keen to hear about our twinning experiences, congratulating us on our longevity, and we discussed the ways in which we could promote German language-learning which has declined in recent years, and encourage younger people to get involved. She credits participating in her own home town of Bremen’s twinning link with Riga with encouraging her to study political science and become a career diplomat. After questions from the floor, there was time to socialise and enjoy the usual refreshments.
February 16 2020
The annual Schottland Vereinigung celebration of Robert Burns took place in the Alte Turnhalle, Beerfelden. About 150 people attended and the evening was opened by the Clan Pipers Frankfurt, joined by Neil Clark (Falkirk) and Lothar Eckmayer (Bad König). Rüdiger Holschuh welcomed everyone and the very heavy haggis was brought in by Heather Matheson (Jenkins Dancers), along with Thomas from Clan Pipers and Neil, who performed the address with much drama and passion! The haggis was then served along with the traditional mashed neeps and tatties. The local whisky distillery, St Kilian, had set up a whisky bar which proved to be very popular throughout the evening.
After the supper, Heather Matheson and Laura Boyle from Jenkins Dancers performed a couple of dances, with Neil providing the music on Highland Bagpipes. Then Kathryn and Neil, as Glenbervie Folk Duo, played a mainly instrumental set of Burns’ and Scottish tunes. The dancers came back on, followed by Clan Pipers Falkirk. Then it was the audience’s turn to dance, as Kathryn and Neil provided the music for the ceilidh. This proved to be very popular, and even a Strip the Willow was attempted! This was followed by a raﬄe, then Laura and Heather did their last set of dances, to rapturous applause! Glenbervie played their closing set of mainly Burns’ songs, and were joined on stage by Lothar on pipes, for two tunes. Finally, everyone was on their feet in a circle, to close the evening by singing Auld Lang Syne, led by Kathryn and joined by the pipers for a rousing last verse! Safe to say, a fantastic time was had by all, and it was a true joining of two nations in the celebration of Scotland’s famous bard.
Neil and Kathryn are most grateful to Barbara and Lothar for being superb hosts and showing them some beautiful parts of the area during their stay, and would also like to thank the Schottland Vereinigung for inviting them over to take part in the event.
February 16 2020
We were delighted to welcome Ken Cramond, Scottish Fundraising Officer for International Rescue Corps, to our meeting on Tuesday, 11th February. He gave us a very interesting illustrated talk about the rapid response squad which was formed in the 1980’s to offer search and rescue support in the aftermath of disasters such as earthquakes and floods both in the UK and abroad. On choosing the name International Rescue, they asked Gerry (Thunderbirds) Anderson if they could use it, and he not only approved but became their first patron. His son, Jamie, is now Vice-President.
With the motto ‘United to Save Life’, the team are ready to deploy at a moment’s notice to anywhere in the world – Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, for example - to help anyone in need of their assistance regardless of nationality or religion. Their specialist boats and the skills to operate them have been put to use in some of the many flood-hit areas of the UK.
The team is made up of highly trained volunteers, both men and women, with a variety of skills (and very understanding employers and families), and was one of the first organisations of its kind, though several other countries have now formed their own teams.
Ken illustrated his talk with some brilliant slides which gave us some insight into the difficult work involved in locating and rescuing survivors, often working with teams from other countries, and their work in some of the worst the UK floods.