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FIFE TWINNING LINKS

Glenrothes link with Böblingen in Germany

UNDER DEVELOPMENT

The link between Glenrothes, the administrative capital of Fife Region, and Böblingen, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, arose from a personal friendship. A teacher at Glenrothes High School, together with a friend at the Albert Einstein Gymnasium in the German town, established contacts between their two schools. This relationship resulted in the suggestion, made by the Oberbürgermeister of Böblingen in 1970, of establishing a partnership with the Fife town. The idea met with a positive response from Glenrothes, where developing a link with a town elsewhere in Europe had been previously considered, and the formal twinning agreement was concluded the following year.

Although, unlike Glenrothes, Böblingen is not a mid-20th century new town – being founded in the 13th century – it also experienced a period of rapid growth and economic development following the Second World War, and became similar in size in terms of population.

Coat of arms of Böblingen

Over subsequent years, a lively programme of exchanges has developed between the two communities, mostly involving young people. In addition to sporting teams, visits to Böblingen were also made by groups such as highland dancers and pipe bands and other community organisations. Fund-raising and arrangements for the events are carried out by volunteers in the Glenrothes Town Twinning Association.

Glenrothes Town Twinning Association logo

Twinning with Böblingen provided young people in Glenrothes with opportunities for establishing further European contacts. The German town is also linked with locations in Austria, France, Italy, The Netherlands and Turkey. Evey two or three years, since 1978, young people from these twinned communities meet to compete in a sporting Olympiad. Many different sports are involved, including athletics, football, tennis, judo and swimming. Glenrothes has hosted these gatherings on two occasions, in 1984 and 2003, organised by the Fife Olympiad Committee established for this purpose. The Committee holds fund-raising events and promotes participation in the sporting gatherings by young people from across Fife Region.

“Team Scotland” at twinning Olympiad, Böblingen 2017

Developing as a new town in the second half of the 20th century, Glenrothes became famous for its open-air art installations which included a number of stone hippopotamuses located throughout the town. Inevitably, the hippos took on a life of their own, becoming a symbol of Glenrothes and subjects of entertainment. In 2011, the town celebrated the 40th anniversary of its twinning link with Böblingen by instituting a “hippo parade”. Children from local primary schools colourfully decorated polystyrene model hippos for a competitive display in the town centre. Visitors from Böblingen joined in the festivities and were presented with a model hippo to take back to Germany. (The 2 meters long model was too large to take on a plane and had to be transported by a surface route.) The parade took place annually until 2018.

Presentation of hippo model to the Oberbürgermeister of Böblingen (left)

Another sculpture – this in bronze rather than polystyrene – also forms a link between the twinned towns. The many open-air art installation in Glenrothes include “The Dream” by Malcolm Robertson, featuring a group of young children from different ethnic backgrounds playing in a circle with joined hands. It is located close to the war memorial. A bronze replica, gifted by Glenrothes, is installed near a primary school at the edge of a small park on Freiburger Allee in Böblingen.

“The Dream” in Glenrothes

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Glenrothes Town Twinning Association

English Wikipedia page for Böblingen

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Böblingen coat of arms image, public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Glenrothes twinning logo, © Glenrothes Town Twinning Association
Team Scotland image, © Rachel Edgar, CC BY-SA 4.0
Hippo presentation image, © Karin Vaughan, CC BY-SA 4.0
“The Dream” image, © Paul Vyšný, CC BY-SA 4.0