Chairman's Report 2016 

CTTA AGM 2016 Chairman’s Report

Well, I haven't just cut my teeth on my first year as Chair of CTTA; I've taken a massive bite! The year included visits to Backnang to attend both the Advent Market in December and the Strassenfest in June. The Advent Market was extra special in that we were celebrating with our Backnang colleagues 25 years of Twinning when we were joined by a delegation from the City Council, including the Council leader and Deputy leader. As usual, we ran our stall to raise money for the twinning association, fortunately before the pound crashed. The long-term effect of this last phenomenon is yet to be worked out!  There was a difference of opinion, to put it politely, between us and the Backnang organisers about how long the stall should remain open on the Saturday evening. Hopefully these differences will be sorted out by the time we go out for this year's Advent Market.

Incidentally, we're going to be down on helpers this year so any offers to join us will be appreciated. The Strassenfest in June was somewhat upstaged by Germany's participation in the European Cup. Their quarter final against the Czech Republic took place on the Sunday evening during our farewell dinner at the Stadtblick restaurant, where the cheers when Germany scored their three goals could be clearly heard from the huge crowds watching on the big screen down in the town square. Oberbürgermeister Nopper joined us after the game, his cheeks proudly painted in the German colours!

Our return match, as it were, took place here in Chelmsford in September when we welcomed delegations from both the Backnang Council and the Backnang Partnerschaftsverein for a further three days of celebration, culminating in a tree planting at Hylands Park by the two mayors. The events were even reported in the Community section of the Essex Chronicle – no pictures, mind you; we wouldn't want our local paper to be TOO enthusiastic! The whole weekend was a resounding success with very positive feedback from those who came along.

One of the events we'd planned was a barn dance on the Friday evening here at Galleywood Heritage Centre. This was a new venture and none of us were sure how it would turn out. We need not have worried. Hosts and visitors alike had a roaring time to the extent that the committee are considering another barn dance sometime in the future. Our three visitors from Annonay had to leave early, thereby missing the closing ceremony at Hylands but they seem to have had a good time and some useful ideas for the Chelmsford-Annonay twinning were discussed.

Although the year really belonged to the Backnang-Chelmsford Twinning, our other twinned town of Annonay has not been overlooked. I was able to go over to Annonay in May, together with my 19-year old granddaughter, to join THEM in the celebration of 50 years of THEIR twinning with Backnang. As well as meeting up with friends from both towns, I was able to take over a consignment of 24 paintings from the 2 Chelmsford Art Society to be included in their celebration exhibition at Châteaux Déomas. 3 of our paintings were sold in what, I'm afraid, was a disappointing response from the Annonay citizens and I felt rather sorry for the organisers who had worked so hard on setting up the exhibition. I have also helped our Chelmsford-based wind orchestra, Caprice, to include in their 2017 programme a visit to Annonay at the beginning of April. I just MAY be sneaking along to join them!

Finally, let me turn to our own local events. During the year we have been able to put together TWO quiz evenings, in Autumn 2015 and Spring 2016, both of which were well-supported and successful events. Plans are well under way for our next quiz here on November 11th. We decided this year to move our celebration meal to a January date because of people's hectic schedule in the build up to Christmas. This has been successful and we intend to repeat this in January 2017. Although we're still looking for a suitable venue, the date has been fixed for January 9th 2017.

Details will follow in due course. We've also tried to organise events for members in the form of a series of informal get-togethers which required very little prior organisation and a stipulated minimum attendance. Previous attempts had led to last-minute cancellation of events because of insufficient numbers but this year has been a success with encouraging attendances. The committee are working on ideas for 2017.

Which brings me to my last point – but by no means least – I must thank my fellow committee members for their dedication and hard work over what has been a busy year. They've been a great team to work with.

 We would still welcome new blood on to the committee particularly as Tony Eagleton has decided to step down for family reasons. He has been chair of the Backnang Sub-committee and we are going to miss him. Thank you, Tony, for what you have done over the years in that post.  A tankard was given to Tony with the inscription, “For the many years of your involvement in the Chelmsford Town Twinning Association”.

Thank you all for your attention.

Alan Arnot