We held a special wreath-laying ceremony in Leiden Square in Oxford’s Westgate Centre on Saturday, November 11 2018 to mark the First World War Armistice and Remembrance Day.
The Lord Mayor of Oxford, Colin Cook, and the deputy burgomaster of Leiden, Yvonne van Delft, laid a colourful floral wreath and Link member and former serviceman Brian Hawtin laid a traditional Poppy wreath. The ceremony took place by the Oxford-Leiden mosaic which was unveiled in the square in November 2017. Shoppers joined Link members from both Oxford and Leiden at the ceremony, which included singing by Cumnor Choral Society and everyone joining in our two national anthems.
The deputy burgomaster also laid a wreath on behalf of our Link at the Remembrance Day service in St Giles. Our programme for Remembrance weekend also included a social evening, our annual dinner at Kirtlington Golf Club and a Poppy Day concert by Kidlington Concert Brass.
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 2017, 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 is the fourth year it has 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.
We paid our annual visit to Leiden in May 2018, joining two Dutch Remembrance Day wreath-laying ceremonies and enjoying the Dutch Liberation Day celebrations when they mark their freedom from German occupation at the end of the Second World War. The party, which made the trip by air, rail, road and ferry, included the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Jean Fooks, with her daughter, Carolyn Naylor, as escort, and the Very Rev Bob Wilkes, the former City Rector, and his wife Sheila.
Twenty-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.
In April 2018, Kidlington Youth Football Club and RCL Leiderdorp enjoyed the 30th 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. Special celebrations were held at Kidlington to mark the 30th year of this friendship.
We enjoyed a day of celebrations on Saturday, 11th November 2017 to mark the opening of Leiden Square and the unveiling of a mosaic in the new Westgate shopping centre in Oxford. The developers agreed to our suggestion to name the new square after our Link. This means that Oxford’s two oldest twin city links have been recognised with squares – Bonn to the north and Leiden to the south.
The day was marked by music from the Cutting Edge Big Band from Oxford and the K&G Stage Band from Leiden, and dancing from the Messy Jam troupe from Oxford. Hundreds of shoppers packed the square and the balconies above to enjoy the entertainment. The mosaic was designed by three young artists, Lauren Baldwin and Tamsin Corrigan, from Oxford, and Emma van Noort, from Leiden.
All the latest news is included in the Link’s quarterly newsletter, published in March, June, September, and December.