It was on September 3, 1962 that the first citizens of Kirkcaldy, Provost James Gourlay and Ingolstadt Oberburgermeister Dr Josef Litzl, met in the Town House to sign a declaration of friendship.
And nearly 60 years on since formalising that special link between the former Kirkcaldy Burgh Council and the City of Ingolstadt in Bavaria, Germany, the twinning link remains extremely successful and continues to flourish as new links are established.
The Kirkcaldy Ingolstadt link has grown over the years with many lasting friendships formed across a range of organisations with numerous exchange visits involving many people in the ongoing expansion of educational, cultural, sporting, social, tourist and economic development between the two towns.
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Recently this link was celebrated once again when two town twinning stalwarts from Kirkcaldy – who both have long-standing connections with Ingolstadt – were presented with a prestigious honour.
Robert Main (65), chairman of the Kirkcaldy Ingolstadt Association (KIA), and Jim Cooper (77), former general secretary of Kirkcaldy YMCA and a founder member of KIA, became the first ever recipients of the Kasper Castner medal, a new honour conferred by the city of Ingolstadt.
At an official ceremony held in the Old Town House in Ingolstadt on July 22, the Kaspar Castner medal was presented to Robert and Jim by Oberburgermeister Dr Christian Losel in front of delegations from nine of Ingolstadt’s ten twin towns, city councillors and invited guests.
The award of the Kaspar Castner medal by the City of Ingolstadt recognises the dedicated service and exceptional contributions given by both to the town twinning link between Kirkcaldy and Ingolstadt, the merits of town twinning and promotion of international relations.
Jim Cooper has been working on the town twinning exchange almost since its inception in 1962.
Within his work whilst general secretary of Kirkcaldy YMCA to 2003 for which he was awarded an MBE, he has engaged tirelessly over the years in many organised youth exchange programmes, international camps and sporting links particularly football with Ingolstadt and is accredited with creating the established link between Kirkcaldy YMCA and the Association of Youth Clubs in Ingolstadt.
Mr Cooper was a founding member in 1996 of KIA, the Kirkcaldy Ingolstadt Association and continues his active membership.
Mr Cooper said: “I am honoured to have received this medal from the City of Ingolstadt, and wish to share this with all the people of Kirkcaldy who have helped develop the Kirkcaldy Ingolstadt Twin Town link over the years.”
Robert Main has been chairman of the Kirkcaldy Ingolstadt Association since 2003 but a welcome guest to Ingolstadt since his first visit in 1970.
Mr Main continues to develop the twinning link that continues to grow from strength to strength at home and abroad.
Mr Main is responsible for the Kirkcaldy presentations at MIBA, the biennial trade and tourist exhibition and the Ingolstadt Christmas Market whilst currently contributing to the Kirkcaldy Garden at the Bavarian State Garden Show 2020.
At home he is accredited to bringing the ever-popular biennial Bavarian Beer and Music Festival to the town from 2003 and is currently working with a local travel company to develop a city break to Ingolstadt.
Most recently he has helped facilitate the Neeburs of Geordie Munro links to a football fan group in Ingolstadt and introduce Walking Football to the city earlier in the year. With its Ingolstadt counterpart FINKY (Friendship Kirkcaldy Ingolstadt), the Kirkcaldy Ingolstadt Association promotes contacts between schools, clubs and music groups and arranges short term work placements.
Mr Main said: “The Kaspar Castner medal which I am privileged to receive and accept with pride is an expression of the common bond of friendship that binds us together. “Town twinning has been an extremely rewarding experience and hobby for me and I am exceptionally grateful to everyone at home and in Ingolstadt who have been part of my town twinning journey.”
Robert and Jim’s first visits
Robert’s first visit to Ingolstadt was in 1970 when he was just a teenager to play in a football tournament organised by DJK Ingolstadt. And later when he was 17 he worked in Ingolstadt over three consecutive summers as a landscape gardener working in a tree nursery.
While Jim said: “In 1967 an invitation was received by the Kirkcaldy town council to organise a youth football team to go out to Ingolstadt to play in a football tournament. The council invited the YMCA and the Kirkcaldy Travel Club to create a team to go out and play in the tournament and I was invited to lead the group. That was the first contact I had with the town in 1967, when I was just 23.”