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Choirs from Oxford, Leiden and Thame combined to provide a memorable night of music at Oxford Town Hall.

It was the second time that the City of Oxford Choir and the Leiden English Choir had sung together – they performed at the Hartebrugkerk in Leiden in early June 2023.

A month later, they reunited and repeated the performance in Oxford – and were joined by Thame Children’s Choir.

The title of the concerts was ‘To See A World’, with the focus on nature and the Earth. They were much enjoyed by audiences in both cities.

In May 2023, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Oxford, James Fry and Susanna Pressel, joined us on our annual visit to Leiden, laying wreaths in memory of our war dead on Dutch Remembrance Day and attending Liberation Day events marking the end of German occupation of Holland at the end of the Second World War. The Burgomaster and Lord Mayor welcomed athletes who lit a Flame of Liberation after running overnight from Wageningen, where the Germans surrendered in 1945.

Our link enjoyed a busy summer in 2022, with an Oxford party visiting Leiden and three groups travelling from Leiden to Oxford, a welcome change after most of our 75th anniversary celebrations the previous year were cancelled due to Covid.

Right, During the annual visit to Leiden in early May, the Burgomaster, Henri Lenferink, and the then Oxford chairman John Chipperfield, in the absence of the Lord Mayor Mark Lygo, unveiled in Singel Park a plaque beside a hornbeam tree, our anniversary gift to Leiden planted the previous autumn.

Oxford members also laid wreaths on war memorials on Dutch Remembrance Day and took part in Liberation Day celebrations. 

The Amigo band from Leiden gave two performances during a visit to Oxford in late May, entertaining shoppers in Leiden Square in the Westgate Centre in the morning, left, and visitors to the Oxford Botanic Garden in the afternoon. 

A Leiden youth orchestra – Jeud Symfonieorkest Rijnstreek - appeared with singers and dancers at Oxford Town Hall in mid-June in a performance of Haydn’s The Seasons, the major event in
celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of Oxford’s link with the Germany city of Bonn.

Oxford Botanic Garden featured again in our programme when Oxford’s twin city groups were
invited to join the garden’s 400 th anniversary celebrations in July. Paul Kessler, director of Leiden’s botanic garden – Hortus Botanicus – and two colleagues took part. Leiden’s City Poet, Zoe van de Kerkhof, recited poems with a garden theme.

One event that survived Covid in our 75th anniversary year in 2021 was a Mad Hatter’s tea party.
Twenty-five members and friends, seen below, some wearing colourful hats and costumes, joined the celebration in a garden at Begbroke. Among them were our President, the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Mark Lygo, and his escort and mother, Eva Emmett. The Lord Mayor praised the long history of the Link before cutting an anniversary cake.


Over Remembrance weekend in November 2021, the Lord Mayor laid a Dutch-style floral wreath in memory of our war dead on our mosaic in Leiden Square in the Westgate Centre in Oxford. Long-time Link member Brian Hawtin laid a traditional Poppy wreath. Cumnor Community Choir sang the two national anthems as well as entertaining shoppers with a medley of favourite songs. The annual dinner took place at Kirtlington Golf Club. On Remembrance Sunday, the Link wreath was laid on the St Giles’ war memorial by our chairman John Chipperfield, in place of the Burgomaster, Henri Lenferink, who was unable to travel because of Covid restrictions in Holland.

Lord_Mayor_1The Lord Mayor is pictured here alongside the wreaths with Jochen Reeh-Schall, the mayor of Bonn, Oxford’s German twin town.

An art exhibition organised by our committee member, Clare Carswell, at her studio in Charlbury
featured work old and new by four local artists, Robin Danely, Juliet Eccles, Vicky Hirsch and Becky
Paton. You can see their work in our 2021 photographic section. They were to have exhibited in
Oxford at the same time as the Young Rembrandt exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum (the famous
artist created his early work in Leiden), but both events were cancelled because of Covid.

At last, they had a chance to display their oil paintings, mosaics, ceramics, etchings, sculpture and photographs at an exhibition entitled ‘Jong’ – Dutch for ‘young’.

We held two lively online gatherings on Friday, 26th March 2021 to mark the day our link was formed 75 years ago. The Lord Mayor and the Burgomaster of Leiden, Henri Lenferink, spoke warmly of our achievements and pledged support for the future. Link members at the second meeting recalled many exciting times in the past.

Leiden_dancersYoung dancers from the BPlusC group in Leiden, pictured here, took part in a Global Dance with our other twin cities, which was posted online. There is also an online display of photographs from past events on the Museum of Oxford website.

Most events in 2020 were cancelled because of the pandemic, but a photographic display, featuring work by Eelkje Colmjon from Leiden among others, was held online and proved popular, with 30,500 ‘hits’. Eelkje’s contribution entitled ‘The future is now’ was on the theme of pollution and rising above its problems. See pictures in our 2020 photographic section.

IMG_0343We were delighted to hear that Leiden chairman Roelof Hol has been made a Knight of the Order of Oranje Nassau, a major award from King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands.

In April 2019, Kidlington Youth Football Club and RCL Leiderdorp, near Leiden, enjoyed the 31st anniversary of a special relationship. They met for a football tournament at Easter 1989 and have continued ever since with annual exchanges, one year in Kidlington, the next in Leiderdorp.

This year’s tournament took place in Leiderdorp, with two boys’ teams and two girls’ teams from Kidlington competing.

In August 2018, young footballers from the UVS (1914) club in Leiden visited Oxford to take part in a football tournament with teams from Oxford and two other twin cities, Bonn and Perm. The event followed a successful visit by Oxford footballers to Perm in 2017. 

In June 2018, 14 cyclists employed in 10 McDonald’s restaurants across Oxfordshire took part in a 300-mile charity ride from Oxford to Leiden. The three-day event started at Ronald McDonald House at Headington and ended at Ronald McDonald House in Leiden. This was the fourth year it had been held. All the money goes to Ronald McDonald houses, which provide free accommodation for families at or near hospitals while their children are having treatment.

Leiden student Mara Smeele visited Oxford to play her recorder at the three-day Tandem music and arts festival at Ramsden, near Witney, in June 2018. She and her fellow musicians from 20 countries took part in an hour long concert in Bonn Square in the city centre to publicise the three-day event.

RL_-_Roomburg_-_begroeting__voorafgaand_aan_de_wedstrijdTwenty-eight girl hockey players, aged 14 to 16, from the Roomburg club in Leiden were guests of Oxford Hockey Club in May 2018 and played in a tournament with clubs from Banbury, Witney, Thame and Buckingham at the Oxford Brookes University sports centre. During their two-day visit, the Dutch party also managed to fit in a tour of Oxford’s historic centre and a trip on the River Thames.

All the latest news is included in the Link’s quarterly newsletter, published in March, June, September, and December.

If you are interested in joining the link, please contact
John Chipperfield on:
01865 374877
To receive a copy of the newsletter, more details on upcoming events or if you are interested in becoming a committee member, please contact Jo Hawtin on:
01865 373907
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