A Waterford delegation recently travelled to Märkischer Kreis in Germany to officially sign a twining document to cement a burgeoning relationship between the two regions.
Headed by Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr. John O’Leary, the two-day trip explored the synergies between the regions, with the Waterford delegation experiencing the region’s offerings in the areas of tourism, culture, and industry.
The trip culminated in a Twinning Ceremony whereby Mayor of Waterford City and County and Marco Voge, Märkischer Kreis Chief Executive, signed the official partnership document in the majestic Altena Castle.
Over two days the Waterford delegates visited many of the city’s tourist attractions and amenities including Sauerland Park, which comprises of a museum highlighting the area’s rich history, a tourist Information Centre, playgrounds, skate parks, and the focal point of the park, Jübergturm Tower, which commands stunning views of the surrounding region.
The delegation travelled to Mendener Präzisionsrohr GmbH, a high-performance specialised supplier of heat technology products in the town of Menden. There they met with Mayor of Menden, Mr Roland Schröder, who spoke about the town’s heritage and referenced the steps the local council is taking to make Menden a ‘Smart City.’
The second day of events saw the delegation travel to the impressive Altena Castle where they enjoyed a tour of the grounds. The delegates met with the museum curator and were taken on an extensive tour of the castle to learn about the many families that inhabited the castle dating back to the 10th Century.
That afternoon the German members presented on different elements of life in Märkischer Kreis with a focus on culture, tourism, and industry. This was a valuable opportunity to explore and discuss the commonalities between the two regions.
The official twinning ceremony took place in Altena Castle. The ceremony saw Marco Voge deliver a heartfelt and uplifting speech about the coming together of the two regions.
Mayor John O’Leary highlighted the benefits of the partnership and spoke of the importance of how young people will be crucial to the success of the twinning, saying “This agreement is a significant milestone. It marks the beginnings of a new relationship between our two areas and paves the way for closer cooperation, mutual understanding, and future friendships between our people.
“As we come together to celebrate this occasion, it is important to reflect on the many benefits that town twinning can bring. By forging strong partnerships and sharing knowledge, we can create new opportunities for economic growth, cultural exchange, tourism, and community development.
“In terms of our youth, this twinning arrangement can provide opportunities for young people to learn about different cultures and develop new skills. Not only does it encourage greater understanding and tolerance between communities, but possibilities now exist for many types of youth exchange programmes, travel and education. I look forward to welcoming everyone, but particularly young people to the southeast of Ireland when the time comes.”
The Waterford and Märkischer Kreis delegations have already begun plans for a visit to Waterford later in the year. Both parties look forward to working together in the future with the shared goal of making Waterford and Märkischer regions where people will continue to live, work, visit and invest in.