Some call them a Twin Club, others a Sister Club; no matter, both spell fun and fellowship and add another dimension to our understanding of Rotary International.
In May, 1988, the Town of Sturbridge’s 250th anniversary of its incorporation presented the opportunity to invite the Stourbridge Club of England to join us in the celebration. An exchange of letters between the Presidents led to five English Rotarians arriving to help build our float and then march with us in the parade wearing period costume. They stayed several days in our homes and we spoke about other joint activities we might plan.
As of that date, we became twinned with the Rotary Club of Stourbridge, England, a Club chartered in 1922.
Right from the beginning of our twinning, the two Clubs started alternating regular visits with spouses every three or four years to further develop fellowship and a strong working relationship.
In addition to the first visit in 1988, subsequent visits occurred in 1993 and 1994. It was during the 1994 visit that our Clubs together with the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley and the Town of Sturbridge declared October 13th each year as Stourbridge/Sturbridge Friendship Day. Thus, each year on Friendship Day the two Clubs and towns exchange greetings and Proclamations.Further visits have occurred in 1996, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2012. During the nine visits alternating ‘across the pond’, we have had the opportunity to meet all Club members, stay in each other’s homes, explore the countryside, experience the food, participate in Stourbridge’s perfectly executed Progressive Suppers, exchange stories, learn the cultural differences, and hear about the projects each Club has undertaken. To see a few photos taken during some of the visits, click here.
In 1994, we visited Stourbridge during the 50th anniversary of D-Day. The commemoration displays were very moving. Stourbridge was here to help us celebrate Sturbridge Rotary’s 30th anniversary in 2002. In 2004 seven Rotarians and spouses visited Stourbridge and saw our one qualified Club member play in the “50th Annual Rotary International Championship” with qualified Stourbridge players. This tournament was held at the famed Royal and Ancient Golf Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. Besides the thrill of seeing St. Andrews the two Clubs hired a bus and 33 of us toured the Scottish Highlands, a wonderful experience we will never forget.
In 2012, a group of seven Sturbridge Rotarians and spouses visited Stourbridge in time to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, as she has been the United Kingdom’s Sovereign for 60 years, almost matching Queen Victoria’s reign.
As each visit concludes there is always a formal farewell dinner with exchange of gifts between the Clubs. We try to choose something that remains visible to the host Club members during their weekly meetings.
While the visits are fun and educational, they are also meaningful. We have worked on a number of joint projects including a 3-club 3-continent World Community Service project with Africa, and led a 7-club 4-country project in Kosovo. We also assisted an English family with an autistic child to attend the Options Institute for training in Massachusetts; hosted a Stourbridge Rotarian who bicycled across the USA raising funds for cancer research; and sent high school juniors to their Rotary District’s Annual International Youth Sports Week. To read about all of our multi-club international projects please visit the Projects tab, then International Projects, Humanitarian Projects.
We are confident the twinning will continue for many, many more years to come. The combination of fellowship and the effort to make joint projects work leaves us with a sense of accomplishment and friendship that links across the world. Amazing things happen when people touch people within the framework of Rotary.