A Rotary Twinning: York Ainsty and Münster St Mauritz

Rotary Clubs, like cities, often form twinning relationships across national boundaries, and for similar reasons...to promote understanding through fellowship and cultural exchange. Rotary York Ainsty is twinned with the Rotary Club of Münster St Mauritz. This is the story of how the friendship between the two clubs started and how it has endured for over four decades.

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The montage, prepared by our German friends, includes a photo of Finn Hjort, President of York Ainsty 1978/79, with the founding president Heinrich Austermann of Münster St Mauritz, during the latter's visit to York in April 1979.

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HISTORY OF THE TWINNING:

After considering the possibility of twinning with a club in the Netherlands we found little interest there but, in 1962, we were invited to send a representative to York's twin city of Münster to accompany the Civic Party. This didn't happen, but eventually, in January 1964 the Club agreed to try to twin with the Rotary Club of Münster St Mauritz, a club of similar age to ourselves. With member Finn Hjort regularly visiting Münster on business there was a period of liaison followed by the first visit to Munster in 1969.

An agreement was reached to organise visits every two years and the members of Münster St Mauritz made their first visit to York in 1971. In 1973 the idea of staying in members homes was tried with evident success. However, this was not always possible and in one of the first visits to York Rotarians stayed at the Dean Court Hotel. In 1978 three members went to Munster and stayed in private accommodation belonging to a bank. 1979 saw visiting Rotarians staying at the Royal York Hotel.

Don Wilson (A summary of the early years of the twinning based on a document written by Dick Swallow in 1992 a transcription of which is available as a note.)

And so the story begins. We shall be adding more as we collect reminiscences and photographs, both from our members and our Münster friends.

Rotary York-Ainsty — 4 months ago

This 1992 report by Dick Swallow (RYA President 1972-73) has been transcribed from our original, somewhat indistinct copy held by a current RYA member. HISTORY OF THE TWINNING WITH ROTARY CLUB OF MUNSTER ST. MAURITZ Soon after receiving our Charter in 1960, we looked at the ease of visiting other Rotary Clubs in Europe, and with the port of Hull being so convenient we arranged a visit to Holland in 1961; there was no interest in future visits. In 1962, the Club was asked to send a representative with the Civic Party on its visit to York’s twin City of Munster. This was turned down, as we were being asked to cover the cost of travel of £15.00 per person!!! After various attempts at twinning around the world, it was felt that we should look at York’s two twin towns of Dijon in France and Munster in Germany. Eventually the Club Council agreed in January 1966 we should try and twin with Rotary Munster St. Mauritz, being a club similar in age to ourselves. Following this decision, Mac and Betty McMillan took their caravan to Europe and included a stay of four days in Munster. Mac visited the Club and put the suggestion of twinning to their President who showed great interest. At this time, Finn Hjort regularly visiting Munster on business and acted as the link-man between the two clubs up until the first official visit in 1969. Whilst organising the first visit, it was suggested that the Rotary Club of York should join us; eventually only one member of that club, the late Gordon Wilkins, joined the few who went on this occasion. After this visit, the Munster Club suggested making regular contact with us and it was agreed we should meet every two years, alternating between the Munster and York. Arrangements were put in hand for the first visit of Munster Rotarians and their wives to York in 1971. It took almost a year to organise and Finn again acted as our contact, who kept reporting that they were very keen...

Rotary York-Ainsty — 3 months ago

...In order to finance the visit, each member was asked to pay a levy to cover the cost of hospitality of our visitors, even though they would be paying for thier (sic) accommodation at the Elm Bank Hotel. We were next invited to Munster in 1973, when I was President. We travelled via Hull to Rotterdam and train to Munster – “never again”! In making the arrangements to travel to Germany, we made a request through my contact Rotarian Knubel, the Club Secretary, to stay in the homes of Rotarians. They readily agreed to this, as it was felt, and it still is, that it was far better than staying in hotels, from the point of view of fellowship. It also gave us a better opportunity to know our families. This visit was an outstanding success. Straight away we broke down barriers by the UK Rotarians introducing themselves by their Christian names, which is normally unheard of in Germany on occasions like this. I had long discussions with Karl Heinz Knubel on how we could make the visits more practical, rather than just visiting each other socially. Their exceptional hospitality was highlighted on this occasion they arranged for us to stay for an extra day, when they discovered that our Travel Agent member had booked for us to stay a night in Amsterdam. We had a fantastic time on this extra day, which turned out to be the best of the visit. On our return, we discussed how we could be further involved with Munster. Unfortunately, we came to the conclusion that to combine with a Community Service project would be difficult and our contribution would be minimal compared to Munster’s contribution. The next visit to York, our visitors stayed at the Dean Court Hotel, as we could not get enough members to host in our homes. In 1977 we were again invited to Munster but due to the possibility of staying in hotels, it was decided that the cost would be too much and the visit fell through...

Rotary York-Ainsty — 3 months ago

...However Munster were still anxious for us to visit and arrangements were made to visit in 1978. Eventually, three members made this visit and arrangements had been made for them to stay in private accommodation belonging to one of the Banks in Munster. In 1979 the Munster party came to York and stayed at the Royal Station Hotel, now the Royal York. This arrangement was forced upon us, as the initial number of those wishing in visiting York, was far in excess of the number we could host in our homes. As it turned out, the number of people who eventually came could have been accommodated in our own homes. This led to discussions with various members of the Munster and it was agreed that no time had there been more than twenty in any of the previous parties, we would always stay in Rotarians’ homes – this has happened ever since, both here and in Germany. When the Munster party visited in 1987, we were invited to visit them the following year to take part in their 25th Anniversary celebrations. This was accepted and enabled us to look to future visits coinciding with York’s four yearly festival (sic). During the extra visit to Germany, the late Ray Langstaff was honoured by the Munster Club by making him a Paul Harris fellow. This was in recognition of his involvement in making the arrangements for visits in both ways since 1973. At the same time I am reminded of the fact that Mac McMillan had been a member of the International Committee since 1979 up to 1990. He was chairman from 1982 to 1985, so he too had been very much involved with 4 of the 5 meetings either way. Those not involved in these visits sometimes comment, “What do we get out of all this?”. I would say, and am sure those of us who have hosted here or travelled to Munster, we are getting a better understanding of each other and Rotary Fellowship. In many cases it has gone beyond that, with private visits and contacts being made with various families both here and in Germany...

Rotary York-Ainsty — 3 months ago

...Audrey and I are one of these, having visited Munster twice and hosted here on two occasions. We have also had three children from one family to stay with us, on their own, on two separate visits.” Finally, after all these years and as we look forward to the visit of the Munster Rotarians and their wives this summer, I think you will agree that our meetings every other year are in keeping with the fourth object of Rotary, namely, the advancement of International understanding, goodwill and peace throughout the World, a fellowship of professional business persons united in the Ideal of Service. Dick Swallow - 1992

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Rotary York Ainsty members also have fond memories of visits to their friends in Munster. One occasion was particularly special for long-time Rotarian Dennis Miller and his wife Sheila, who heard about the birth of their first grand child when in Munster. Dennis reminisces about the event in the accompanying recording.

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"During the Münster Rotarians visit to York in May 2008, as an ex senior fire officer and Rotarian, I arranged a visit to the York, Huntington fire station. One of the Münster Rotarians, a most competent and enthusiastic artist, made this sketch of our group at the fire station while waiting for the coach to arrive to take us on a day trip to Whitby." Alan Stow

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The Münster Jug

During their 1987 York visit, the RC Münster St Mauritz presented Rotary York Ainsty with a magnificent brown, pottery jug, which now plays a role in an annual RYA tradition. At our President's Evening, held at the end of June to celebrate the hand-over of the outgoing President to his or her successor, The Jug is filled with about three pints of beer, which is then distributed to the past presidents who bring their engraved tankards or goblets commemorating their years in office. The outgoing president retains the Münster Jug for the following year, although we understand not everybody necessarily appreciates its rare design.

The jug is a limited edition reproduction of a type originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. We were given a document, (see accompanying image), describing history of the design by the 1987 President and Vice-President of RC St Mauritz. A transcription of the document is provided as a note.

Rotary York-Ainsty — 3 months ago

R. C. Münster-St. Mauritz At the end of the 19th century, the English Arts and Crafts Movement, inspired by Morris and Ruskin, strongly influenced artistic life on the continent. "Art Nouveau" in France and "Jugendstil" in Germany were the results. Like their English contemporaries, Jugendstil-artists took interest in the revivement (sic) of traditional handcrafts, for instance in pottery. One of the important German pottery areas was the Westerwald, a mountainous district in the south of the State of Northrhine – Westfalia which Muenster and the Muensterland are part of. The outstanding Westerwald pottery in the beginning of the 20th century was the Merkelbach firm, which invited prominent "Jugendstil" artists to design potteries in the Westerwald tradition but with a high contemporary artistic standard. Pottery ware of that kind is rare today and sought for by collectors. Last year, Merkelbach, now owned by Goebel Porcelain Manufacturers, decided to recast several models of that time, using the original moulds. These replica were issued for sale in limited, numbered series. One of these, a Merkelbach jug, designed 1908 by Professor Wynand, number 185 out of 1.000, is dedicated to the members of RC York-Ainsty by the members of RC Muenster-St.Mauritz on occasion of their contact meeting 1987 in York as a token of Rotarian friendship between the two clubs. (Signed) (Ralph Beaucamp) (Meyer-Schwickerath) Präsident Vizepräsident

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This is the original German document withe photo of George Shepeard

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Your Early Morning Tea

Rotary Club of York Ainsty by Jörg Heithoff

“Hans-Jürgen. Your early morning tea.” – With these words, Hans-Jürgen Schumacher was gently awoken each morning in York by his host, Ray Langstaff. Whoever has taken part during the past 45 years in the partnership between the two clubs has spoken of great, northern English hospitality and cordial hosts. As is the case of the Landstaff-Schumacher couples, lasting personal friendships developed. These contacts go back to the sixties. It was in 1969 that the first delegation from Münster travelled to Yorkshire. In 1979, there was a Tenth Anniversary Dinner.
The regular, bi-annual visits have continued until today. For many years, it was George Shepeard who coordinated the partnership on the British side. Today, it is Don Wilson. In the early yers, it as Gerhard Rabeler, Paul Lückerts, and Nico Osthues who looked after it for our side. Now, it is Peer Kalvari who has taken on this role. We are York’s only international contact club. The exchange is therefore all the more important for our British friends. “Rotary is one of those organisations which has the ability to foster friendships not only between individuals but also between nations irrespective of all cultural, political or religious considerations,” said President Philip Holdsworth in 2012 during the last-but-one visit to Northern England.

Photo caption. George H Shepeard, an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Münster-St. Mauritz, with the silver mug of honour from our club.

Translated by RYA Rotarian Antony Peck in July 2017.

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