A Rotary Twinning: York Ainsty and Munster 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 Munster 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 Munster St Mauritz, during the latter's visit to York in April 1979.

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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 Munster 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 Munster St Mauritz, a club of similar age to ourselves. With member Finn Hjort regularly visiting Munster 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 Munster 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 Munster friends.

Rotary York-Ainsty — 6 days 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. In order to finance the visit, each member was asked to


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 (to be added!)

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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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