The 75th anniversary of Oxford’s oldest twin city link has been marked by the planting of a tree.

Oxford and Leiden in the Netherlands reached the landmark last year, but celebrations had to be postponed because of Covid.

The hornbeam tree was planted in Leiden last autumn and, in the absence of Oxford Lord Mayor Mark Lygo, was officially handed over to the Burgomaster, Henri Lenferink, by John Chipperfield, chairman of the Oxford-Leiden Link, and former assistant editor of the Oxford Mail.

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He and the Burgomaster then unveiled a plaque explaining the tree’s significance at a ceremony in Leiden’s Singel Park on Thursday.

Oxford Mail:

The visit to Leiden, the first by an Oxford party since 2019 because of Covid, also included Remembrance Day when the Dutch honour their war victims, and Liberation Day when they celebrate their freedom from German invaders at the end of the Second World War.

Mr Chipperfield laid the Lord Mayor’s Dutch-style floral wreaths at two war memorials, while Link members Gill and Bill Pinkerton, Malcolm Ryder and Mandy Keen laid traditional Poppy wreaths.

The chairman was again in action next day, joining the Burgomaster on a two-hour civic walk around Singel Park after they had welcomed a team of flame-carrying athletes who had run overnight from Wageningen, where the Germans surrendered in 1945.

Oxford Mail:

It was the first time for many years that the Lord Mayor had not joined the visit to Leiden.

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One reason for his absence was that he was needed for election duties.

In March he was criticised for flying to Grenoble in France for a climate change conference.

Mr Chipperfield said: “We were disappointed that the Lord Mayor could not join us as he has been a strong supporter of our Link in his 18 months in office, but we managed to cover all his engagements in Leiden.”

Oxford Mail:

The Oxford-Leiden Link was formed in 1946 as the countries of Europe rebuilt friendships after six years of war.

The two cities were considered suitable as twins because both had universities, were about the same size and featured rivers, canals and waterways.

Although Bath and Alkmaar in the Netherlands started their friendship earlier, they had a break in the 1980s, making Oxford-Leiden England’s longest continuous twin city link.

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Oxford Mail:

Thousands of Oxonians and Leidenaars, representing many sports and interests, have taken part in exchanges over the years.

During last week’s visit, plans were finalised for the visit to Oxford of the Amigo brass band from Leiden, which will perform in Leiden Square in the Westgate Centre on Saturday, May 28 from 11am and at the Oxford Botanic Garden from 2.30pm.

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