Schwerte association needs more families

Some of the young people from Schwerte who visited Hastings last September
Some of the young people from Schwerte who visited Hastings last September

THE COMMITTEE which runs the Hastings Schwerte twinning programme wants more families to get involved to host their guests after several could not be accommodated this year.

The appeal comes as dozens of children and parents from Hastings twin town were due to arrive today (FRI) as part of the annual Twinning Association programme.

Around 35 people were due at St Thomas of Canterbury Church in Magdalen Road, St Leonards. The children stay at the presbytery while adults stay with families. But with more hosts, several more could have been accommodated. In recent years the number of hosts has dropped with demand from Schwerte now outstripping supply. Ken Sharples, a committee member, believes the recession has deterred Hastings families from becoming hosts.

“Not a lot of people understand what it’s about,” he said. “They think it’s one big jolly paid for by the council which is an outdated vision.

“The host families don’t get paid and the recession could’ve put a lot off getting involved. The demand is outstripping supply here. It’s a wonderful exchange of friendship and culture money can’t really buy. My children have grown up with the programme and are now taking their children to Schwerte. In July, my wife and I were invited to Berlin by our host family for a weekend tour. There is a lot more interest from Europe in coming here and we need to reciprocate it to continue the future of the association.”

Tomorrow the children will be taken to the Blue Reef Aquarium before all the visitors go for a boat trip on Bewl Water. There will be an England versus Germany tug of war competition at Bewl Water with medals presented by Hastings Mayor Alan Roberts. In the evening there will be a hog roast. At 11am on Sunday there will be a mass service at St Thomas’ followed by a celebratory lunch in Concordia Hall. The visitors will return home on Monday.

Ken added: “Our visitors really appreciate our hospitality and Hastings is a very friendly town. We urge people to get involved and help keep a fantastic exchange going for future generations to benefit from.” If you would like to get involved with the programme contact Reg Wood on 447173 or email: hastingsschwerte@live.com