For the first time since May of 2019, the 28 partners of Douzelage Town Twinning had the opportunity to gather together at our General Meeting which, following a delay of a few months, took place in our Cyprus partner town of picturesque Agros. Representatives from 12 towns made their way in person with more joining the proceedings online in the first ever “hybrid” GM hosted by Douzelage. Due to last minute flight changes, flight delays and Covid, some were forced to cancel their plans to travel to the GM but were with us online and in spirit.
Meeting with everyone after such a long time meant that there was a lot of catching up to do but of course there was some work to be done as well. Much of Friday was spent preparing on site at the Rodon Mount Hotel and Spa – the technicalities of making sure everyone could be seen and heard at home and on site, last minute adjustments to the agenda and general preparations meant that the day before the meeting was just as busy! Everything was under great control of the local organising committee of Nikolas, Andreas, Marios and Chloe. As delegates started to arrive we got some time to explore the town and its natural beauty nestled in the Troodos mountain in the centre of the island.
On the first night, we were treated to dinner and a display of local dancing in the restaurant of the parents of our host Nikolas, “Aedonia“, where our tastebuds were catered for, with much of the produce available locally and indeed some of it grown right on the premises. It was here we also discovered the hidden talents of one of the other organisers, Marios, who together with some other locals performed some Cypriot dances much to the joy of all assembled – some of which we were able to join in ourselves.
Saturday brought the General Meeting, which kicked off at 9am local time – our thanks to our friends in Sherborne for getting up at 7 to be with us on time! The business of the agenda was conducted in a shorter general meeting than usual but it was nonetheless productive with new ideas and projects discussed, a change to the constitution agreed, accounts verified and future meetings planned. There was worthwhile input from those in the room and also those joining us online.
Excitement was then building for the official unveiling of the “Tile Wall”, just down the street from the conference… but we didn’t have to walk as the organisers had laid on a “Road Train” for us to be transported to the wall and then further on through the town.
The tile wall was a project conceived locally, but contributed to, by all member towns who sent a tile with a photo/logo/design from their town to be included. The result is a beautiful installation promoting the fact that Agros is part of this unique town twinning partnership and familiarising the residents and visitors to the town with the other partners across Europe. You can watch the live broadcast of the official ceremony here.
Then it was time for the tour of the town where we were given some history and the opportunity to meet some local producers and crafters and experience what they have to offer the world from the “Rose Capital of Cyprus”.
That evening we held our usual gala dinner for all members where each delegation was presented with a handmade carved memento of our visit. Each delegation, as is tradition, brought a gift from their home country to the hosts and to Mayor of Agros, Michalis Constantinides.
As all this was taking place, our social media team were recording interviews with delegates to get their memories and thoughts about Douzelage to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the organisation. Watch this space for something special soon!
As some delegates said goodbye, others remained in Cyprus for another day and were treated to a wonderful excursion on Sunday to Troodos Global Unesco Geopark, the Botanical Garden and then south to the spectacular “Archaeological Site of Kourion” and finally to Limassol Marina for a relaxing lunch amongst European friends and some people watching!
Agros, you were amazing, and there was a renewed sense of excitement, vigour and positivity towards Douzelage and its goals following the downtime during the pandemic.
We look forward to our next GM in Škofja Loka, Slovenia next August and everything that happens in between.
Thanks to all the photographers who have allowed to use their images in this blog post.