GROWTH OF WORLD HARMONY AND PEACE

The letters from your two complainants about the Stocksmoor and Villages Twinning Association have been brought to my attention. As the founder of the association and its first chairman may I please respond to one or two of the points made?

The inaugural meeting was held, some 12 years ago, in the bar of the Clothiers Arms in Stocksmoor. The room was free of charge but the beer was not. This arrangement suited both the members of the association and the landlord. We have continued to meet, at two-monthly intervals, in pubs in the locality and on the same basis. We therefore contribute to the local economy a little more than we otherwise might about every eight weeks.

The association is a ‘private’ organisation, (although it is ‘open’ to anyone who wishes to join it). As such it enjoys no sponsorship, subsidy or financial support from either Kirklees Council or Kirkburton Parish Council. In the first year of our existence, when members were few and subscription income was low, we did apply to the parish council for a small grant towards the cost of the present which groups such as ours typically and traditionally take to give to the mayor of the host community.

In refusing our request the parish council offered us a few coffee mugs with a local motif. We declined, with our thanks. That same year the council gave a grant of several tens of thousands of pounds to the National Mining Museum at Caphouse Colliery, which is not even in Kirklees. There followed a lively correspondence in these pages between myself and the councillors concerned.

There are no councillors in our membership and there never have been. No councillor has ever been to Italy with us in any capacity whatsoever. Though they would be very welcome to do so in the same private position that we all share. Our only involvement with the town hall is on our biennial visit, when the mayors of both communities or their representatives meet to exchange small, token gifts. Typically, after a tour of the town hall and the concert hall we and our guests then ‘junket’ on tea, coffee and biscuits, for which we are always and sincerely grateful. We would want no more.

We have exchanged visits with Olgiate Molgora in alternate years for the last decade. This means that every other year some 40 to 50 residents of Kirklees take at least one, and possibly their only, holiday in Yorkshire. We might, otherwise, join the throng of people seeking the sun on foreign shores. As the host to an Italian visitor this year I know that my gas, electric, water, food and laundry bills went up. My credit card statement shows that I spent, among other things, a total of £99.05 on petrol at Morrisons during that week.

I also know that I spent well in excess of £200 on dining out for me and my party. These meals and snacks were eaten in Kirkburton, Hull, Bridlington, Helmsley, Leeds and Liverpool. In addition to the boost that I gave to the local economy I know that our 28 visitors spent a good number of their euros in the shops, bars and restaurants in our area.

Furthermore, like the English contingent, they do so, very happily, at least every other year and often several times in between. Our Italian friends and ourselves do not spend our money to buy one another's friendship; it would be impossible to put a price on that. We do it because we firmly believe that such comradeship and internationalism are the surest way to securing world peace and harmony for all humankind. For this greater good, (and, yes, the enjoyment we derive from it), we are prepared to put our hands into our own pockets...

J Brian Harrison-Jennings

Founder and past chairman Stocksmoor and Villages Twinning Association.

This is perhaps something of the true spirit of Twinning...

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