Royal surprise for group on Dutch twinning visit

Dordrecht SUS-150615-135639001
Dordrecht SUS-150615-135639001

Members of the Hastings Twinning Association were lucky enough to shake hands with the King and Queen of the Netherlands during a recent visit to twin town Dordrecht.

A group from the Hastings-Dordrecht Twinning Association, including the mayor Councillor Bruce Dowling, joined the Dutch celebrations for the Koningsdag (King’s birthday).

Catherine Wellington said: “They were made very welcome by the mayor, Mr Brok, and several of the group met the King and Queen of the Netherlands. The whole town was in festive mood with bands to listen to and displays including a magnificent parade of ships representing Dordrecht’s maritime history. Altogether a most enjoyable day following which they were entertained to an evening meal as the guests of Mayor Brok.

A trip to the Keukenhof – the world famous tulip gardens – had to be aborted due to a problem with the coach but even so it was a very pleasurable visit.

The group’s next trip to Holland will be in May, 2016 to the “Dort en Stoom” which is a very large steam fair.

Hastings has long-standing links with Dordrecht.

Immediately after World War II, Hastings and Dordrecht residents played water-sports together - water polo and competitive swimming - and this broadened out into a vibrant sports exchange, so that many friendships blossomed.

Eventually, the two town councils recognised the strength of this inter-community relationship, and a formal twinning charter was signed in 1982.

In the early 1990s, the Hastings-Dordrecht sports exchange would still last a whole week, and cultural events, especially choir and youth orchestra exchanges, were common.

Somehow, it all ran out of steam in the mid ‘90s and the committees folded up on both sides. The twinning officers of two town councils kept things ticking over, and a few clubs have maintained their annual exchanges: notably the Seagulls water polo players, and the Beauport Park Riding School.

There have been some fascinating visits, for example when the Old Timers brought 40-odd WW2 vehicles to Hastings and displayed them on the beach at Rock-a-Nore.

In 2006 a new Hastings-Dordrecht Twinning Association was set up on the Hastings side, to try to relaunch the link.

Dordrecht was a very wealthy and important trading town in the middle ages, since all goods travelling up or down the six main waterways had to be unloaded, stored, sold or transhipped there.

It was granted civic rights in 1220, and so can claim to be Holland’s oldest city.

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