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Senior citizens visit Siegen

“Why should only young people have all the fun?”, a woman at Haus Herbstzeitlos, a centre for senior citizens in Siegen, said to Frances Jones, then councillor for Morley, during a visit in 2001.

Since then there has been a series of exchange visits between Siegen and Morley/Leeds involving up to 25 people at a time. However, it took a few years before the Germans came over to Leeds because they wanted to learn English first. When language lessons were advertised at Haus Herbstzeitlos, 120 older people turned up and, continuing to this day, the students of these English lessons form the core of the Siegen group involved in the exchange with Morley.

This year’s visit took place from 02 to 07 May 2018. A group of twelve people from Morley aged 66 to 89 years went over and, as usual, everyone stayed with the older people in Siegen. Some were able to communicate in various levels of German or English and any lack of a common language was overcome with smiles, gestures and goodwill.

The partners in Siegen had arranged a wonderful programme of visits, starting with a civic reception in the Rathaus or Town Hall, where Mayor Steffen Mues gave a warm welcome and the guests presented him with greetings from the Lord Mayor of Leeds and the Mayor of Morley.

The group also explored Siegen, with its upper and lower castles, beautiful gardens and great shops. They visited a Leica camera factory with a fabulous display of photos from around the world; then they went down an iron mine; and finally visited a stunning modern church at a motorway services.

The third day was free to spend with the hosts, visiting other places of interest and joining in family barbeques. On the final day the visitors from Morley went to Bad Berleburg on the train, to see the castle, walk round the old town and visit the wool market. In the evening, the visit ended with the traditional farewell party where both groups sing together and finish the night with Auld Lang Syne.

Exchanges like these with a relaxed programme and plenty of time to eat and drink, to laugh and talk and learn about German life and history are fantastic opportunities to share our common goals of peace and friendship.

The group would like to thank the Siegen Circle, Leeds City Council and Morley Town Council for their ongoing support of these exchange visits. They look forward to inviting a group from Siegen over here in 2019 or 2020. New members are always welcome, so if you want to know more, please contact Frances Jones using the form below.

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