Burntisland youngsters forge latest twinning links with Norwegian town
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The links between the two coastal towns span the generations - the twinning link between the town is reputed to be the second oldest in Europe. It was formalised at a public meeting in Burntisland Parish Church Hall on February 24, 1946, just months after Dunfermline broke new ground by twinning with another Norwegian town, Trondheim.
Those civic links continue to this day with a party of five young folk from Burntisland already in Flekkefjord where they will be joined by a civic delegation, not to mention three members of Burntisland Sailing club who have just arrived safe and well after three days at sea!
They are there as part of International Week which brings together delegates from each of the countries for a packed programme of events, celebrations and visits.
Led by Mark Kisby, the youngsters will stay with host families, returning the favour in 12 months time, and get to experience life in a town which shares a rich maritime history. Also making the journey is George Kay, former councillor, who has been part of the town twinning group for 25 years. It’s his fifth visit, and one he is looking forward to.
George will take with him a painting to give to his Norwegian hosts after local artist Tania Savage was commissioned to create her vision of Burntisland.
The gift further cements the ties that bind the two towns - ties that came after Norwegian soldiers were based in Fife during War War Two, and when the idea of a twinning arrangement was first mooted, it was the children of Burntisland who voted for a link with Norway.
Since then, generations have made the long journey to Scandinavia. The return of the visits after a three-year pandemic enforced break, nas delighted George.
He said: “In 2020 we had an event in place with a cohort of young people to go to their international week, but that was when everything had to stop because of lockdown. Everything was scuppered.
“Last year people were still a bit apprehensive, but we put out a call to see who who be interested and we were surprised and very please with the response we got from the young people.”Burntisland’s twin town committee is run entirely by volunteers, which is why the Fif town opted out of hosting the international conference - the scale of the organisation would be just too great - but George believes the link needs to be nourished for the good of both towns.
“A lot of people have spoken to me about their memories of visits and welcoming guests to Burntisland.” he said. “It’s important the town is represented on the stage with the five other cities.
“It’s a beautiful place and there is so much to see. They have a centre similar to the Adam Smith Theatre which is a fantastic place. I’m looking forward to going. It’ll be a chance to see many people I’ve met over the years and maybe say goodbye to them as I don’t see myself making the journey in five years time.”
Countless numbers of folk from the town have made the journey before him, and the hops is they will continue to do so in years to come. Burntisland Links features a cairn installed to mark the 50th anniversary of the twinning link, but connections between the towns date back much further.
In 1886, the Fife Free Press reported that a ship had left Burntisland Harbour for Norway with a full cargo of coal and general goods - plus a party of lady and gentleman excursionists. With berths fully booked for the return and next outward journeys, perhaps it unwittingly sowed the seeds of one of the most enduring town twinning links.