TWINNING between Skipton and a town in Germany is alive and well after 40 years following a visit by original members of the friendship association and school students this summer.

In September, 1982, a document was signed in Skipton Town Council's council chamber, in Skipton Town Hall which began the process of creating a partnership with the town of Simbach-am-Inn in southern Bavaria.

In June 1983, Brian Phillip, the then mayor of Skipton, travelled to Simbach to sign the document and cement the partnership.

Amongst the more than 50 others on the trip 40 years ago was Norman Wills, conductor of Skipton Band, and band members, and students and teachers from Aireville School and Skipton Girls High School.

They travelled to Germany in two coaches, with members of the Skipton band and their wives in one coach, and staying in a small inn in the centre of Simbach, while others were put up by families in the town.

A sculpture in brass of a shepherd and some of his flock was presented as a reminder of the Yorkshire Dales.

The three-hour long twinning ceremony was described at the time as prestigious and was attended by members of the European Parliament, the Bavarian State Government and several members of Simbach Town Council.

It was also something of a test for the Skipton Band, whose members had to perform in the heat after the longest journey its members had ever undertaken for a performance.

Over the years, there have been frequent visits between the two towns, including in May, 2013, when members of the town council, and the twinning association, travelled to Germany in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the partnership.

The party took with them a larger than life-sized sheep, one of many that had been made for an arts trail around the town - and echoing the original gift in 1983.

This year Brian, with his wife, Jean, daughter, Linda and her husband, Peter returned to Simbach to mark 40 years of friendship with the town which Brian regards as his second home.

Over the years Brian and Jean have visited Simbach many times and have built up lifelong friendships, particularly with the Liedtke family, who are very special to them.

Brian said: "We have stayed with this family for holidays, attended the weddings of two of their daughters and visited to welcome new babies and attend christenings."

"I would like to thank Whitakers Chocolates for donating chocolates, in specially designed boxes, to be given to our many friends in Simbach. These were much appreciated as Whitakers Chocolates are regarded as a luxury gift."

Also visiting Simbach in July were musicians from Ermysted's Grammar School and also a school exchange visit, in total making up around 90 young people from Craven.

The musicians performed at two concerts along with local groups from Simbach and the surrounding area. Brian and his family were invited to attend the welcome reception given to the visitors by the Burgermeister of Simbach, Herr Klaus Schmidt Also present on this occasion were Herr Joseph Strasser and Frau Inga Kraus, who were both instrumental in establishing the partnership.

Brian said: "The most important thing to emerge from this visit was the fact that there was a will and an enthusiasm between the schools to continue and develop the partnership.

He said “These young people are the future and my wish is that they will gain as much pleasure from this friendship as I have done."

The Ermysted’s Swing Band,Training Band, String Group and Orchestra, including musicians from Skipton Girls’ High and Ilkley Grammar schools, accompanied by teachers, took part in the 40th anniversary celebrations.

Writing in the school newsletter, Andrew Robinson, said the students and staff were made to feel very welcome "Beginning with a reception in the “Rathaus” with the Mayor of Simbach, Klaus Schmid, we were made to feel immediately welcome, a sentiment that was further expressed through the rapturous applause that met the groups as they took to the stage for the opening number of a concert, an unforgettable Anglo-Germanic ‘round’ singing of ‘I Like the Flowers’.

"The concert was a joint charity performance with the Tassilo-Gymnasium Choir in aid of Ukrainian refugees living in Simbach, and was closed by another Skipton/Simbach choir rendition, this time of Abba’s ‘Thank You for the Music’"

A second performance took place in a local hostelry, with a German brass band, and during the day, there were outings to southern Germany and to Austria, including a trip down Germany's oldest salt mine.

"It was with heavy hearts and fond memories that we bade farewell to Simbach for our return to England " added Andrew.

Spirits were however lifted on the 32-hour journey home with the discovery of a grand piano in the Hull Ferry Terminal with the group entertaining fellow travellers and customs officials with "impromptu jazz, classical, and a poignant, valedictory rendition of ‘Running to the Bus Stop’"

Anyone interested in joining in the friendship with Simbach can contact Brian Phillip by email: