Twinning link with West Africa celebrated

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HULL is celebrating its pioneering links with Freetown with only its second week of celebrations in the partnership’s 32-year history.

While many British towns, cities and villages forged twinning links with counterparts in France, Belgium and Germany, Hull was the first to develop such a relationship in the developing world when it announced the bond with the capital of Sierra Leone in 1980.

And while others were focused mainly at civic level, Hull and Freetown developed deeper connections with ongoing partnerships between schools, churches and creative industries that continue to thrive.

These links are the focus of the celebrations that will culminate with an event hosted by The Freetown Society at Pearson Primary School tomorrow from 6pm, to which residents are invited.

Honorary Alderman Patrick Doyle, who was leader of the city council at the time and a key figure in forming the partnership, said: “It still survives and if someone had asked me if it would still be around in 2012 I would have said I hope so, but the fact it is, I’m delighted.

“We always tried to make sure this was a people’s link and not just a civic link and there are parishes linked with parishes and schools linked with schools and that is how we have been able to make sure it prospers.”

The Rev Allen Bagshawe, chairman of The Freetown Society, said: “It enriches us as well. If you stop looking at your navel you are better people and because we have been able to explore the linking in depth it does make things happen.

“We’ve got teachers coming back representing 10 schools in Hull and in the last few months we had two separate parties of teachers over here. We are exposing our children to the different lifestyles and opportunities of children in West Africa; kids who like to go to school, and this (Hull) is a city which has struggled with being bothered with education, so it’s good for them to see.”