Over thirty of Bristol-Hannover Council members and friends took part in a visit to Hannover to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the twinning. All participants covered their own costs and were hosted by the Hannover-Bristol Gesellschaft and Hannover City Council. The visit coincided with Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees’ official visit to Hannover. The Bristol Mayor undertook a gruelling programme of two 12 hour days with business meetings and a series of five key speeches including one at the Trade Fair grounds celebrating their 70th anniversary (founded by the British Army in 1947 with Hannover City Council to help kickstart the economy there) and another at a special service in the Marktkirche, where Bristol Cathedral’s Reverend Sarah Evans delivered a sermon in German. The Mayor took part in a re-affirmation of the twinning, along with Oberbüergermeister Stefan Schostok and the chairs of the two associations, at Hannover’s historic New Rathaus, rebuilt after the war, where over 120 people attended (see pic below). As part of proceedings a group of students from the Goetheschule gave a presentation about their long running links with Cotham school. Young musicians also performed and the deputy UK ambassador to Germany revealed he was a Bristolian and had taken part in the Hannover exchange several times leading him to study German and take up a career in the Foreign Office. The Mayor was then invited to sign the Hannover Golden Book for distinguished visitors and those given awards by the city.
The citizens’ delegation had their own programme of historic visits and events culminating in the fabulous British Fireworks weekend. Hannover has an annual fireworks competition over five weekends in the summer and invites five different countries to take part each year. This year they made sure the UK was one of them to coincide with the Bristol visit. Bristol singer-songwriter Daisy Chapman was the star performer on the stage in the sumptuous Herrenhausen Gardens in front of 11,000 local people and visitors where the Mayor and the Oberbüergermeister both spoke to the crowds.
Lynne Evans from the Bristol Hannover Council said “we had a wonderful time, our Hannover hosts showed us just how much they love Bristol and value the relationship, and how much they want it to continue despite the changes with Brexit. We were overwhelmed by their hospitality and I know our Mayor also felt it deeply as this was his first visit to Hannover since going on an exchange when he was a teenager. We also had someone with us who was reunited with her exchange partner whom she hadn’t seen since 1952. That one took a fair bit of detective work in both Bristol and Hannover as you can imagine!”
70th Anniversary projects continue both here in Bristol and in Hannover (see www.bhb70.com) and now as a result of the visit there are several initiatives with Hannover being planned. These include a proposed artists’ exchange, a youth project with UPFest, a young people and democracy project as well as sharing expertise around Migration issues and Transport planning.