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Geschichte unseres Partnervereins

Friends of Königslutter Written by Shan Bigwood

I was present at an Anglo-German seminar for Youth Workers at Halsway Manor, Crowcombe in May 1971. There I met Herms Wolff who told me that he was the leader of a group of young musicians who formed a mandolin and guitar orchestra. I had not heard this type of music played by an orchestra and expressed the wish to do so. Thus in July 1971 when on a visit to Wolfenbüttel with another youth group, I was introduced to Concordia. The music which they played and the enthusiasm of these young musicians was so impressive that I considered it would be nice for them to come to England. (Initially I had thought of the Sidmouth International Folk Music festival, but as the events at Sidmouth are in the open, it would not be good for their stringed instruments in inclement weather.)

It took me quite a lot of time, letter writing and thinking about but in spring 1976 I visited Königslutter to discuss with Herms their visit, which was to be in June 1977. Accommodation for the 36 (or so) musicians (with no money with which to pay for it) was needed so I approached my friends and acquaintances. I also approached the Area Youth Office and booked 36 camp beds in case they were needed. We had a fairly large house and a nice barn with a wooden floor!! I was able to get quite a bit of editorial from the Somerset County Gazette, which enabled me to find several volunteers for accommodating a person (or two) so the camp beds were not needed. Pam and Peter Revans and Christel and Harold Inder were two of the original host families and we all know about their involvement ever since.

The group would be coming in a coach, therefore the driver needed a place to park during their stay, and excursions had to be arranged as well of course as concerts. For many of their following visits, Manfred Kunschke (the Politz driver), Herms Wolff and family plus several other members of Concordia stayed with us at Underhill Farm.

Herms had said that they would donate any money collected for the concerts to charity. The Brewhouse was opening that very year. I talked nicely to the manager and asked if they would like to offer the theatre for a concert with all profits to go to the theatre. The only day available during their stay was a Sunday and he arranged for this to be the big day. The Brewhouse did a good job with their publicity and the theatre was very well attended and the music very much appreciated. Concordia also gave concerts at Bristol and Wiveliscombe, which were also a great success, and I was so proud of them. The day trips which included Plymouth, Minehead, Lyme Regis and Cheddar went well. I accompanied them in the coach and got to know the youngsters very well.

After their return I called a meeting of all the host families, at the Tangier Youth and Community Centre where it was agreed that the visit had been a success and that the host families would like to accept the invitation given by Concordia for a return visit to Königslutter in Summer 1978.

That visit took place and was the start of the exchange that was originally called Königslutter and Taunton Exchange, KATE for short. In 1982 a Deed of Friendship was exchanged between the two towns and in 1992 an official twinning link was formed. KATE became Friends of Königslutter in 1989. (Known as FOK).