Celebration - pictured from left are the publishing team of David Shearmur, Nancy Shearmur, Heather Barnes and Chloe Barnes (Alicia Barnes was not able to be present). In the back row are Dagmar Grafton (partnership secretary) and Denis Baldry (chairman)

by Denis Baldry

A SPECIAL celebration booklet has been published to mark a special, long-standing partnership.

There are many lasting and shared memories between the people of Manningtree and Frankenberg (Eder), in Hesse, Germany.

The towns share a special partnership and the 50th anniversary of that relationship is being celebrated in 2020/21.

To commemorate the golden anniversary, a collection of memories from people who have taken part in exchange visits has been compiled by David and Nancy Shearmur.


Heartfelt thanks - when a large party from Frankenberg visited Manningtree in 2016, two of the people who signed the charter in 1971 met again. Heinz Müller and Anna Foster, pictured above, each received a commemorative gift

The 48-page booklet reflects on the special friendship and was launched earlier this month.

The partnership started in 1959 when Ernst Rekel, from a school in Frankenberg, spent six weeks at a school in Ipswich.

Over the next decade, friendships flourished and the schools regularly exchanged students.

In 1968, visitors from Ipswich met with members of the Frankenberg Partnership Committee, who were keen to form a link with an English town.

Back home, members of the Ipswich group spoke with Tony Howells, then a bank manager in Manningtree, who spoke to the Manningtree Chamber of Trade.

He enthusiastically picked up the idea and visited Frankenberg in 1969.


Focal point - the impressive Rathaus, or town hall, in Frankenberg

The partnership was founded in early 1970 from a desire on both sides to build a lasting reconciliation between the two countries.

Partnership charters were exchanged in Manningtree in 1971.

Town ‘twinning’ takes place at local council level, whereas a ‘partnership’ is informal and links communities.

Among the first to visit Frankenberg in 1971 were a group of Manningtree firemen and further visits followed.

During the 1973/74 season, Mistley United FC, representing the Manningtree district, set out by coach via Felixstowe to Zebrugge.

They got lost - there were no satnavs back then - and arrived five hours late in Frankenberg.

The trip cost £40 per person and, for many, it was their first trip abroad.

It was staying with German families that made the trip possible, affordable and truly memorable.

These trips continued for many years, alternating each year, and only ending when the players got too old.

Many other local groups and businesses, churches, farmers and sports teams have, at various times, supported and enjoyed the partnership.

In June 1976, the Stour Choral Society (SCS) made their first visit to sing with the Kantorei of Frankenberg and a lasting bond continues to this day.


Sweet music - the Stour Choral Society and Kantorei of Frankenberg sing together in 2016

Nineteen exchange visits have been made, the last by Kantorei to Manningtree in 2016.

In December 2018, three members of SCS sang Handel’s Messiah with the Kantorei in Frankenberg.

However, sadly, the trip planned by Kantorei members to sing it with Stour Choral in Mistley Church in March 2020 was cancelled due to covid-19.

Between 1980 and the first decade of the 21st century, Manningtree Secondary School developed a strong and very beneficial contact with the Burgwaldschule, Frankenberg and excellent exchanges and visits took place.

A particularly pioneering venture in 1993, and again in 1995, provided the opportunity for Manningtree School students in Year Ten to complete two weeks of work experience in Frankenberg.

During a similar period, the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, also developed strong links with another Frankenberg school.

Acorn Village for adults with learning disabilities developed an exchange programme with a similar group in Frankenberg and several exchange visits were made.

Building upon experience gained from earlier visits and an invitation received, in 1994 a full coachload of slightly apprehensive farmers from the Tendring district set out to visit Frankenberg with just the trip organiser having been to Germany before.

It was to be a memorable visit enjoyed by all.

When a large party from Frankenberg visited Manningtree in 2016, two of the people who signed the charter in 1971 met again.

Heinz Müller and Anna Foster each received a gift together with the heartfelt thanks of all partnership members.

Since Anna’s death in 2017, the committee, together with Anna’s family, has initiated the Anna Foster Prize for German, awarded annually at Manningtree High School, to the student making best progress in learning German.

Links with Frankenberg and a programme of social events for members continue to be organised and maintained by the Manningtree District Frankenberg Partnership Association (MDFPA).

Over recent years, regular visits by members have continued with exchanges between friends.

These friendships now often span decades.

In 2019, MDFPA members were welcomed to the town of Frankenberg to celebrated its 775th birthday.

Then, a week later, it hosted over 5,000 people of all ages and from every country within Europe for ‘Europeade’, the spectacular annual four-day festival of European folk culture, music and dance.

This year a group from MDFPA was due to visit Frankenberg in October to celebrate the 50th anniversary but this too has had to be cancelled.

Planning continues in the hope that in autumn 2021, Frankenberg will be able to come to celebrate in Manningtree.

Anyone interested in the partnership and maintaining vibrant links with our European neighbours is invited to contact MDFPA by visiting the association's website at www.mdfpa.org

* Everyone loves a trip down memory lane.

Whether it's school class photos, pictures with friends in a sports team or powerful images of a certain occasion, nostalgia is a very special emotion.

Does the word conjure up memories of a certain event - a gathering of people sharing a moment in time?

Have you seen Colchester United play at Wembley, did you usher in the millennium in Colchester or have you paraded along the town's High Street or taken part in Clacton Carnival?

Perhaps you have special memories of working with friends and colleagues in a particular building, office or factory.

Do you remember the day Culver Square opened or did you work in a pub or shop from yesteryear, like Woolworths or C&A?

If so, we'd love to hear from you.

We're keen to include more nostalgia features in our papers and online but we need your help.

Send us your photos and details and we'll print as many as we can.