AFTER the pandemic put a stop to Barnsley’s Twin Town Society getting together - as well as grand plans to celebrate 50 years of twinning - members finally got to see each other again for the first time.
This year marks half a decade of the official agreement between Barnsley and Schwabisch Gmund, but links between the towns go back much earlier.
And when members of Barnsley-Schwabisch Gmund Twin Town Society (BSGTTS) met on Tuesday night for a German dinner at Barnsley College’s Open Kitchen, the celebratory mood reflected the spirit of that initial relationship, committed to paper in 1971.
The story goes that in 1954, a coachload of children from Schwabisch Gmund - a town of roughly 60,000 in the foothills of the Swabian Alps, Germany - were brought to Barnsley by town councillor Arthur Williams after being turned around on their way to South Wales.
Among the 45 people at Tuesday night’s dinner, talks begun again over how to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the agreement - albeit a year later than planned.
Members want to hear from anyone who took part in youth exchanges or visits with groups and sports teams - the town at least once held an ‘England v Germany’ football tournament, something rumoured to be repeated next year - in the years before or since the twinning agreement.
Chairman Alan Brentnall said there are also hopes to involve Barnsley’s younger generation, to inspire them to rediscover the town’s German links.
“There must be hundreds of people in Barnsley who have gone to Schwabisch Gmund,” he said.
“We’d like to do some kind of mass reunion.
“We’d like to involve a lot of children, which is obviously something we’ve got to do during the school holidays.
“We have to be careful, the council has to be careful, but fingers crossed it can go ahead.
“It’s been almost two years and we’ve not done anything - it’s to get back and everybody’s enthusiastic.”
Anyone who wants to help with next year’s celebrations is asked to contact society secretary Phil Coppard at email@example.com.