Town twinning organisation facing membership crisis

Town twinning organisation facing membership crisis

Town twinning organisation facing membership crisis

First published in News
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St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A town twinning organisation for Radlett and Aldenham may close due to a lack of interest, a recent AGM was told.

Radlett and Aldenham's town twinning organisation RAIFA may close because it is failing to attract any new members.

This was the message from its chairman Clive Glover to members at its recent AGM in Radlett.

RAIFA - the Radlett & Aldenham International Friendship Association - was founded in 1978 to help exchanges of local individuals and groups with people in their twin towns in Germany and France.

Formal links between the parish of Aldenham and Lautertal were signed in 1980 and with Louveciennes in 1983.

The AGM meeting heard that over the years there have been many exchanges with the twin towns but these have declined in recent years as the idea of visits has not taken off with younger generations. It has also proved difficult to attract new younger members to RAIFA in recent years.

One attempt to revive interest in twinning was made in 2009 by approaching a Hungarian town, Dunaharazsti, to consider becoming a third twin. Although several exchanges were made as a result, in the end the lack of support for RAIFA meant it was unable to finalise a new link.

Clive Glover said: "Obviously I would be disappointed that something that has been running so successfully for over 30 years had to close down. But we have to face the reality that it no longer seems to appeal to people locally, perhaps because everyone travels so much more these days.

"But the real benefits are in developing personal friendships with people living in other countries.
"There are many people here in Radlett and in our twin towns who have become good friends, visit each other regularly and even go on holidays together. It would be sad to lose this opportunity for people in the future."

Despite the problems there are two exchanges taking place this year. In May the Choeur de Louveciennes will be singing at the 150th anniversary celebrations at Christ Church in Radlett.

And in September a teenager from Radlett will represent the town at the annual Festival of Flowers in Louveciennes as a "maid of honour" to the festival queen.

In discussions with their French counterparts last year, it was agreed to scale down visits of large groups of people and concentrate instead on smaller groups of families to stay with each other.

It was also hoped to arrange exchanges between schools, starting with online discussions and leading to subsequent visits. These ideas are still begin actively pursued.

Lautertal is also finding similar difficulty in attracting active participation in visits, apart from its school link with a French community.

For more information visit: www.raifa.org.uk

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