Chairman’s Report 2017 

CTTA    AGM   Nov. 2017

Chairman's report (Agenda item 3)

It's been a busy twelve months so I'll waste no time with introductions and dive straight in !

I'm going to do things in aphabetical order so let's start with ANNONAY....

There's been a change at the top of their twinning. After many years of faithful service, my counterpart in Annonay, Alain Dusser, has stepped down.  I look back with pleasant memories of working and corresponding with him and wish him good health and a happy retirement. Their new chair is Patrick Charrier, who came over last year with the Annonay delegation for our own celebration of 25 years twinning with Backnang, and I’ve already been able to make personal contact. Things have picked up after several years of relative inactivity with our partners in Annonay. Our Chelmsford Wind Orchestra, Caprice, approached me last year with a view to arranging a return visit to Annonay and performing again with their counterparts in Annonay. Consequently I'm pleased to announce that they are going to Annonay during the weekend of next week to give a concert. Three of us on the committee have arranged to go along as well and are looking forward to renewing acquaintances. We're also working on building up a contact between the Riverside Rotary Club and a similar club in Annonay. Both groups are enthusiastic about the possibilities and we look forward to seeing them rotate together.

Moving on now to BACKNANG...

There's also been a change at the top here. After many years of dedicated service, as chair,  Christa Breuniger retired at the end of last year and our delegation from Chelmsford who went over for the Advent Market last year were able to give a small gift with our thanks and best wishes for a happy retirement. Her place has been taken by Marco Schlich,  ably assisted by David Whitehead, the son of our council leader, who lives in Backnang, speaks fluent German and has regular slots on Chelmsford Community Radio. During the first weekend in September, he’d arranged for four of their staff to drive over to Backnang with their equipment for a live broadcast of events as they happened at the Murrspektakel, a 2-day festival along the river banks to celebrate 950 years since Backnang’s foundation. Four of us from Chelmsford, sporting our smart new twinning T-shirts (with thanks to Mick McDonnagh), also went over and manned a stall with all sorts of handouts and freebies promoting our city. In spite of us being few, we were able to enjoy the other activities that were taking place. Liz was able to go on a kayak ride on the river and, unlike at least two of the locals, managed to avoid falling in! The Backnang twinning members had worked extremely hard at their end setting up their stall to sell drinks and cakes prepared by their Partnerschaftsverein. We were all bowled over with the success of the event.  Others who came along were also caught up in the enthusiasm, particularly the Deputy Mayor of Chelmsford, who spent some time chatting with us on our stall, and we are all hoping that this enthusiasm will not be a flash in the pan.


A small group of us will be going over at Advent to man our customary stall of English goodies, this time at our new setting up at the Stifthof, thereby avoiding the possibility of falling down the steps and doing ourselves an injury at our previous venue by the clock tower. AND, for the first time, some Backnangers are coming over to man a stall at the Cathedral Advent Fayre on Saturday, December 2nd. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this will be a successful venture and, who knows?, it might be repeated in future years. So, if you’re not going to Backnang, how about dropping in at the Cathedral and saying “Guten Tag”!

Finally, what's been happening here in CHELMSFORD?

We haven't had to plan any special joint festivities this year so we've tried to encourage more participation from our members by arranging a series of informal social events, aiming for roughly one activity per month. Publicity for these has been done through regular e-mails as well as Janet's monthly newsletters. We deliberately tried to go for activities and visits which did not involve prior payment in order to avoid the embarrassment of last-minute cancellations through lack of take-up. Frankly, attendances have been disappointing but the few who have come along have had great times and I'd like to express my thanks to our committee members who have shared the planning of the events. Our traditional Autumn quiz is going ahead at the Galleywood Heritage Centre on November 3rdand we’re looking for as many teams as possible to join in the fun with the usual friendly rivalry. We’re also planning another twinning meal in the New Year, since promoting one BEFORE Christmas had proved a nightmare.

In 2018 there are no major events in the pipeline – no anniversary celebrations, no special commemorations – so we on the committee are going to concentrate on an all-out effort to build up the membership of twinning, particularly to bring more younger people into sharing our activities. We’d like to think that this is not just a committee undertaking but that all our members can play a part by encouraging their own friends and contacts to come on board. So, in conclusion, thank you committee members for your hard work (particularly to Margaret for arranging the Backnang live link), thank you members for your support, let’s forget about the chaos of Brexit, let’s sweep aside our cynicism about politics and politicians and work towards a great future for Town Twinning.


Alan Arnot