Burntisland group aim to re-establish links with Norway

Members of the twinning committee who are travelling to Norway next month
Members of the twinning committee who are travelling to Norway next month

People in Burntisland are being asked for their ideas to re-establish the town’s historic twinning links with Flekkefjord in Norway.

The move comes after a new committee was formed in September to take the twinning link forward after remaining dormant for the past few years.

Councillor George Kay has taken over as chairman of the group which has organised a reception next Wednesday in Rossend Castle, Burntisland to discuss the topic.

Representatives from local businesses and organisations have been invited to offer their suggestions.

Cllr Kay said: “Burntisland’s twinning link with Flekkefjord is amongst the oldest in Europe and dates back to 1946.

‘‘A youth exchange was developed in the 1960s where young people aged 12, 13 and 14 from Flekkefjord would come here and stay with a family, and young people from Burntisland would in turn go to Norway.

‘‘Around six years ago the previous committee was approaching the high schools to ask young people if they wanted to go, but there was no interest - it was becoming uncool.

‘‘One year just one young person put his name forward and so it just stopped.’’

Cllr Kay said the links were never completely severed - Flekkefjord’s liasion representative came to Burntisland on a personal visit two or three years ago, and last autumn saw the seeds of the group take shape.

The new committee may also extend its remit beyond youth links.

Cllr Kay said: ‘‘There might be a lot of people in their 60s in Burntisland who went on the youth exchanges as kids and might have an interest in going back as mature adults - or we could do it with groups like our pipe band as Flekkefjord has a brass band.

‘‘These are things we want to discuss at the reception.”

Cllr Kay will travel with committee representatives to Norway next month to take part in their International Week.

Twinning links

The twinning link between Burntisland and Flekkefjord was formalised at a public meeting in Burntisland Parish Church Hall on February 24, 1946.

It is thought to be the oldest extant town twinning link in the world.

Contacts between the two developed during World War II when Norwegian soldiers were based in Fife.

When the idea of a twinning arrangement was first mooted, Burntisland children voted for Norway and Flekkefjord was chosen.

One of the highlights was the 50th anniversary in 1996 when a party of 150 came from Flekkefjord for four days of celebrations.