The Hastings Sierra Leone twinning link celebrated its tenth anniversary with a reception held be East Sussex High Sheriff, and former Hastings MP, Michael Foster last Friday.
The event marked the tenth birthday since the formal twinning ceremony between the two Hastings in Sierra Leone in February 2007.
Amongst the guests were teachers from Hastings East Sussex who spent the February half term in Hastings Sierra Leone.
The High Sheriff, who as MP for Hastings and Rye had been told of the needs of Sierra Leone through a House of Commons contact, suggested to Dr John Geater, who at the time ran the local LOAF Christian Fellowship Men’s Group, that they may help and so the idea was born.
In the ten years since, the Link has provided cultural exchanges and practical help from Hastings UK to Hastings Sierra Leone, which has seen the improvement of maternity facilities and must else in what remains one of the poorest towns on earth.
“What I find of satisfaction,” said the High Sheriff “is that we learn from our friends in Sierra Leone just as they benefit from the link with us.
“To see children in Christchurch playground playing African games that cost very little to put together is a joy and is a practical example of what we can learn from our African friends.
“Many of our young people in Hastings and St Leonards know so much more about and the wider world than they would do but for the twinning link.”
A celebration cake, commissioned by the High Sheriff, was cut by Hastings Mayor Cllr Judy Rogers.
Hastings Deputy Mayor, Cllr Nigel Sinden has just returned from the African country. He said: “This was my second trip to our namesake twin town, and I was pleased and honoured to be the representing Hastings Borough Council at the 10th anniversary celebrations.
“The friendship link continues to flourish, and we are very grateful indeed to all of those involved with the link who work so hard.”
Teachers from 12 local school partnerships with Sierra Leone have been preparing to visit their twinned schools during the anniversary year.
Roger Mitchell, the Link’s Education Liaison Officer, said; “It is exciting to find how the efforts of the Friendship Link are making a real impact, benefitting the community of our Twin Town. Sierra Leoneans clearly understand that a vital key to their country’s future lies in quality education.
We, in Hastings UK, are making a significant contribution, while at the same time expanding horizons for our own students. It is a real win-win situation”.
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