Evesham’s “twinning” relationship with its English counterpart

For the past 30 years the Evesham Twinning Association has maintained a cultural exchange partnership with twin city Evesham, England.

Carol Otte/Special to The Sun: Members of the Evesham Township Twinning Association pose for a photo with some of their British hosts and the Paddington Bear Statue at Paddington Station in London during their most recent trip this past summer.

You may be unaware, but as a resident of Evesham Township, you have a twin in England. Well, a twin city at least. Evesham is a small market town in the Wychavon district of Worcestershire in the middle of England. Its total population is about half of ours at around 23,426.

For the past 30 years, the Evesham Twinning Association has partnered with members of a similar organization in our twin city, running several cultural exchange trips and forming bonds with our neighbors across the pond.

Their most recent trip took place in August and will be the primary subject of the twinning association’s upcoming annual public meeting on Monday, Nov. 18, at the Gibson House, 535 E. Main St. in Marlton at 7 p.m. There is no price of admission and coffee and refreshments will be provided. All are welcome to attend whether they are connected to the organization or are just curious and want to know more.

The meeting will feature information about the organization and its 30 years of twinning between our two countries, as well as a review of and pictures from the August trip, which included a three-day sojourn in Scotland.

According to communications chair Carol Otte Prince, the practice of twin cities forming cultural exchange organizations was common in Europe in the years following WWII as a way to strengthen relations between countries and their citizens.

“In this country we’re more likely to call them sister cities,” Prince said. 

The relationship between the two cities started in 1986 when a tax bill was mistakenly delivered to Evesham, England instead of its intended destination here in New Jersey. Prince admits she remained skeptical about this origin story until she actually met the British postal worker who noticed the error in person.

In 1989, the Evesham Township Council invited the mayor and several residents of Evesham, England to come visit in honor of the tricentennial celebration of their town’s establishment.

These regular cultural exchange trips, Prince says, offer their members a more in-depth, immersive and personal travel experience. Instead of staying in a hotel, they are often housed with a host family in England. They get much more than the typical tourist experience being guided by locals who know the area and its history.

“You do things that an ordinary tourist wouldn’t do. You get to go to the grocery store with them and to church and see how they live more than you would if you were just a tourist,” Prince said, adding, “When you do go to the tourist spots, you get the insight on it that a native would have.”

Several of their members remain in contact with the people they meet or stay with following their trips, leading to lifelong cross-continental friendships. These international connections that are formed often lead to their members embarking on trips of their own.  

“The travel is wonderful and there are opportunities that you don’t usually get but it’s also a nice group of people and a nice social network,” Prince said.

For more information on the Evesham Twinning Association, visit its website at eveshamtwinningnj.com.