Hebden Royd's Mayor, Cllr Jonathan Timbers, won praise for a speech he made at a twinning event in Warstein, Germany, from the President of the Bundestag, Dr Norbert Lammert, who also attended and spoke at the event. Cllr Timbers was asked to make a personal speech about the importance of twinning and European co-operation and focussed on the experience of his family in both world wars. The event was organised to celebrate 50 years of twinning beween Warstein and St Pol, and Cllr Timbers attended with his family to represent Hebden Royd, which is twinned with both of those towns.
Cllr Timbers said, 'I was really worried before I spoke that my audience would be offended by what I said about the world wars and their impact on my immediate family, and therefore my life. I was completely wrong. The German audience could not have been more open to talking about the human tragedy of those wars, and the need to find ways of moving beyond grand narratives about ideologies and nationality to understanding one another as ordinary human beings'
After his speech, the President of the Bundestag, the German Parliament, came up to Cllr Timbers as he left the stage and shook his hand. Cllr Timbers said, 'Dr Lammert told me that he found my speech "moving and motivating". I was both surprised and touched. I must say his much longer, more eloquent and spontaneous speech about Europe and the situation in the Ukraine was much better than my contribution. He quoted the British Communist historian Eric Hobsbaum, who was originally a German Jewish refugee. I couldn't imagine a British politician daring to do so'
Cllr Timbers's speech also included a quote, from the English poet, W H Auden. Cllr Timbers said, 'I think the Germans have a more philosophical turn of mind than the British and appreciate the relevance of poetry and history, so politicians are expected to do more than just mouth clichés and popular prejudice to get elected. Other German members of the audience came up to me afterwards and said they liked the speech and the poetry, including Warstein's Mayor, Manfred Godde.'
The photograph shows Cllr Timbers, his wife, Aeisha, and daughter, Sophie, with Angelika and Helmuth Reese, who welcomed Cllr Timbers and their family into their home during their time in Warstein.
A copy of Cllr Timbers's speech is attached. Jason Boom can answer questions about the event in Warstein and twinning, but Cllr Timbers is away on another Twinning event in St Pol until Friday 5 September 2014 celebrating 70 years since British troops liberated St Pol from the Nazis.
Jason Boom, Town Clerk
Added: Friday, 5 September 2014