Chairman's Report  2019    

  CTTA AGM  Saturday, July 20th 2019

   This past year could perhaps be described as the calm before the storm. Next week, we shall have the first of what I’m sure will be many meetings with the new Council leader, Stephen Robinson and some of his council colleagues and officers, to plan the events that will take place in 2020/2021 for the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of our twinning with Backnang and 20 years of our twinning with Annonay. It only seems a short while ago that we were celebrating our 25th Anniversary but some of the key personnel in both Chelmsford and Backnang have changed, so I can promise it will not be just an unimaginative re-run of everything we did in 2016.

   That is not to say we have sat on our heels this past year. We have been delighted to welcome two new members on to the committee; Janette Potter, a City Councillor for Galleywood Ward and also Deputy Mayor for this Civic year – for which hearty congratulations! - and also a return into harness by Ali Perrott who, as a French speaker, has been very active in re-opening contacts with Annonay with some promising possibilities in the pipeline. Congratulations are also due to David Jones on regaining his City Council seat. It will thus be helpful to have two City Councillors on the twinning committee to aid the negotiations that lie ahead. A sadder event was the passing of former Mayor, Councillor and long-standing twinning stalwart, Felicity Sturt. A group of us were able to represent the twinning association in the large congregation at her funeral in Trinity Methodist church.

        There was good representation from Chelmsford for both the Backnang Advent Market in December 2018 and at the 49th annual Strassenfest in June of this year. The two events were very successful and two separate twinning members were heard to remark afterwards that they were the best they could remember. It was a delight to have with us at Backnang the new Mayor of Chelmsford, Cllr. Bob Massey, who, by all accounts, seems to have had a great time! The retiring mayor Cllr. Yvonne Spence (whom we’re delighted to welcome here today), was also able to attend the Backnang goose fair in October. Backnangers are puzzled that we sent TWO mayors over within a twelve-month period as they struggle to understand our completely different mayoral system. In their turn, a team from Backnang again came over to man their stall at the Cathedral market in December, following their successful participation in 2017. One spin-off from the growing link with the Cathedral is that we have now established our own twinning page in the Community Groups section of the official Cathedral website. On the subject of websites one of our other achievements this year is to set up a new and revised website for Chelmsford Twinning. Relationships with our previous administrator, who had run our website for years, had gone pear-shaped and it was decided to make a clean break with a new-look  website which I have jointly set up with the assistance of Sam Cottrell  - that’s right, the son of our Bishop – and members should already have received details of accessing it through our monthly newsletters, for which thanks are due to Janet Smith who has kept them going even from far-flung Hastings.

    We have continued to run regular social events throughout the year for our own members. We had a good attendance for our Autumn Quiz at the Galleywood Heritage Centre in November, although there were mixed reactions to the changed format and quizmasters. Another quiz is planned for November 1st – please put it in your diaries. This year began with a return to Il Palazzo restaurant in January for our annual twinning meal when food and conversation were at their usual high standard. A Sunday lunch at the Angel Pub in February had a somewhat disappointing attendance but our Mad-Hatters’ Bingo in March at the Galleywood Heritage Centre, organised by Gloria, was a colourful and flamboyant success. Although I wasn’t able to attend myself I understand that a great time was had at the afternoon tea laid organised by Janette in May at the White Hart, Margaretting Tye. Even this present event here and now was fixed as part of our social calendar, with the AGM added as a sort of extra item, rather than the other way round. We would welcome feedback as to whether this arrangement is successful. 

      Can I close by thanking once again the members of our committee who have worked so hard, together with the 'pioneers' who have made twinning possible. At the time of writing we are no clearer about what effect, if any, the Brexit situation will have on our respective links but, for the time being at any rate,  the word is ‘Open for business as normal’.

Thank you

Alan Arnot