Whitstable Twinning Association was formed in 1983 and has become probably the busiest in the United Kingdom, with hundreds of visits to and from European towns each year.
There are six Partner towns, Albertslund (Denmark), Borken (Germany), Dainville (France), Mölndal (Sweden), Říčany (Czech Republic) and Grabow (Germany), also links with L’Viv (Ukraine), East Renfrewshire (Scotland), Bolkow (Poland) and Sisimiut (Greenland).
The association is entirely independent and self funding, having no formal connection with the local council, but with whom it has good relations.
WTA encourages reciprocal hosting, which allows people from the various countries to stay with families, sharing their way of life, interests and recreations. This has resulted in many long-lasting friendships, with members not only visiting on official Twinning occasions but privately. There is a strong link with the Community College Whitstable, encouraging students to take part in trips abroad, usually staying with families.
There are also links with firemen, artists, teachers, sports clubs, musicians, Scouts and Guides, all of whom have formed friendships with their equivalent groups abroad and enjoy exchange visits.
Annual events in Whitstable include visits from members of Partnertowns’ associations during the Oyster Festival, the Regatta, Harbour Day, Carnival and the Christmas Market.
The association tries to distance itself from the perceived view of ‘twinning’ as giving opportunities for civic mayors and councillors to travel back and forth. It emphasises its independence and promotes the slogan “People in Partnership”.
A quarterly newsletter is produced and circulated to all members, copies of which can be accessed from the website home page index.
Financial support comes from membership subscriptions, fundraising events, running stalls at town festivals and the sale of German toys and Danish art.
Members, whether in groups or independently, are encouraged to travel to the partnership towns, using their own cars, and often by budget airlines, with the occasional organised coach trip.