Twinning conference report

A report of proceedings at the recent Twinning Conference is reproduced below. The conference was held in Municipal Buildings, Falkirk, on Wednesday, August 22, 2018.

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.

Photo by Pixabay on

Published by Falkirk Twinning

A website to promote Falkirk's links with Odenwald and Creteil. Run jointly by the Odenwald Association and the Falkirk District Twinning Association.

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