Our Twinning Story
The first contacts between Kidderminster and Husum came about as a result of a Government initiative, to promote reconciliation between British and German communities and to encourage assistance in post-war rebuilding – particularly in Schleswig-Holstein, which had been in the post-war British Zone and where Local Government was based on British principles.
Under this scheme, John L. Evans, Kidderminster’s Town Clerk, and the Mayor, visited Schleswig-Holstein in 1955, the Mayor going to Pinneberg and the Town Clerk to Husum. They then reported back to the Borough Council, and the Council decided to open discussions with the town council of Husum. The discussions went well, and were followed by a first visit, in 1956, of a number of representatives from Kidderminster to Husum. This was quickly followed by a return visit of Husum councillors.
A first priority was to bring English and German young people together, and the first of many youth groups went from Kidderminster to Husum in 1960. The group was led by Mr Henderson, the leader of the Worcester Cross Youth Club, from which the group was drawn. The return visit in 1961 was organised partly by Worcester Cross Youth Club but all the accommodation and other arrangements were made by the Town Clerk and Councillor Charles Talbot. Charles Talbot then organised the subsequent year's exchanges until 1973/4 when he handed over the leadership role to Margaret Broome. Margaret’s father, Norman, had been a long-standing supporter of the twinning – as a coach driver he made numerous journeys to Husum or to the ferry ports. Later, as a councillor and as Mayor of Kidderminster, he masterminded the further development of the links, and, with the demise of the Borough Council in 1974 and the decision by the new Wyre Forest District Council not to support twinning activities, he was one of the founders of the independent Twinning Association.
Kidderminster’s Charter Trustees responded to encouragement to take up support of the twinning work, and in 1976, after informal links stretching over 21 years, a formal Twinning Charter was signed in Kidderminster – followed by its signature in Husum in 1977.
The Kidderminster Swimming Club was an early supporter of the expansion of twinning activities, and Association visits to Husum alternated with visits by Council representatives. For a time visits by groups from the Youth Centre were supplemented by a programme of visits by young people representing local churches, but this ended in the early 1980s.
A major development came in 1989 with the decision of the Kidderminster Choral Society to link with a partner choir in Husum – the Theodor Storms Chor von 1843. The two choirs developed a programme of two-yearly visits which has continued to the present day (apart from a missed year as a result of foot-and-mouth disease!). This initiative was quickly followed by an expansion of cultural exchanges of various kinds, involving other choirs, as well as orchestras, painters, bands, theatre groups, dancers and so on.
Another early contact was between the then Harry Cheshire High School (now Baxter College) and the Realschule Nord – a link which saw exchanges of pupil groups over a number of years. This process has been in abeyance for a few years, but there are hopeful signs of its coming reactivation. A similar link has been set up between the King Charles 1 High School and Husum’s Theodor Storm Schule. New pen-friend contacts are also developing between adult learners of English at Husum's Volkshochschule and of German in Kidderminster.
In 2002 the Verein für Städte-Partnerschaft der Stadt Husum (Organisation for Town Twinning in Husum) was set up; this mirrors the Kidderminster Association, and there are now strong links between the two groups.
Recent developments in other fields of activity have included links between the churches of the two towns – bringing together Evangelical Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist and other churches; scouts; quilters; gardeners and Boys' Brigade.