Every two years, the Witten section of the club organises a trip to Barking & Dagenham, with the offer open to non-members as well.
We usually travel by coach or mini-bus (which then remains available for use in England) to our twin town where our English friends always look after us exceptionally well. The wide and varied programme includes excursions into the surrounding area and to London or social get-togethers in the evening, also thoughtfully arranged.
Then there is the “off-programme” free time, giving the visitors from Witten a chance to learn more about the Barking & Dagenham are and its people on a more informal basis.
Accommodation is in a local hotel or at Butler Court, the municipality’s official guesthouse with its comfortable double rooms, a common room and a kitchen in which the famous English breakfast is served.
Every two years, alternating with trips from Witten to England, groups from Barking & Dagenham reciprocate and visit Witten.
The Club does it utmost to put on a varied programme for its guests from the UK. In the past, for example, we have arranged visits to any number of Witten’s sightseeing attractions – e.g. Nightingale Colliery, Hardenstein Castle ruins, Lechner Hof (a sculpture yard), Hohenstein Park and a “voyage” on the River Ruhr courtesy off MS Schwalbe.
But there are lots to see and do in the surrounding area as well. We have taken our friends from Barking & Dagenham to other interesting places such as Düsseldorf, Wuppertal, Herdecke and Soest; visited the Botanical Gardens in Bochum; and travelled to Lake Baldeney and Villa Hügel in Essen. Not surprisingly, an outing to a brewery never seems to go amiss – the Fiege or Warstein breweries in the vicinity, for example.
Another programme item that always goes down a treat are the evening get-togethers in the Lucas Centre, the Ratskeller or in the clubhouse of the Witten Anglers’ Association.
Since 1998, the “twin-town flea market” has taken place every year in the car park of the Ostermann Furniture Store, the twofold aim being to raise cash for the Twinning Fund and to provide the societies linked to Witten’s other twin towns with the opportunity to show what they do.
Each society can decide for itself whether to donate any proceeds to the Twinning Fund or simply boost their own finances.
A host of other clubs and institutions – schools, sports associations clubs, animal welfare groups and theatres (such as the independent Ruhrbühne) – regularly take part. An additional attraction comes in the form of commercial market stalls whose rent for the day also goes into the Twinning Fund.
Thus it is that every year there’s a whole lot to do, see and enjoy. Jumble and bric à brac of all kinds, a choice of new products and an appetising range of culinary delights positively invite you to take a stroll round and have a closer look. There’s also some music or sport show entertainment.
Several members of the Barking & Dagenham Club in Witten meet once a month to brush up their English. For over three years now, eight to ten Witteners (whose school English goes back a good few years!) come together for an English Conversation Circle – both regulars and new recruits.
Initially, the Circle tried to meet in pubs or cafés. But various interruptions, not to mention the noise level, soon led to a rethink. The solution was easy: the meetings now take place in rotation at members’ homes. The date is fixed for the third Friday in the month unless vacations or public holidays require a new schedule.
To check on details of the next meeting, phone Erich Bremm on 02302 48300.
The Colin Pond Foundation was set up in 2001 as a Trust Fund to provide grants for young people engaged on a professional training course. The main stipulation is that the apprenticeship, training course or study programme lead to a recognised qualification.