Douzelage News

Successful 48th General Meeting in Sherborne, UK

The much anticipated 48th General Meeting of the Douzelage took place in our UK partner town of Sherborne over the weekend of April 11th – 14th 2024.

140 delegates gathered from 23 of the 28 member towns across Europe to come together under the theme of “Well-being through Nature and Music”. The sun shone for the weekend as old friends and newcomers (who left as friends) descended on the traditional Dorset town to discuss the business of the agendas of the general, education and youth meetings as well as experiencing the culture of the town and surrounding areas through nightly musical performances and sightseeing trips to the areas of outstanding natural beauty in the Dorset area.
The GM underway at the Digby Hall, Sherborne
Excursions in keeping with the theme of “Well-being through Nature and Music” included the Ryewater Nursery, Kingcombe Meadows, Wild Woodbury Project, Wild Chesil Centre and RSPB Arne as well as an historical walking tour of Sherborne town led by Honorary Douzelage President Jeremy Barker.
Ryewater Nursery – pic Hannah Mc Nulty


The GM also saw the election of a new president and three vice presidents following the outgoing board’s 8 year term (2 x 3 years and 2 extra years due to Covid). Following the election process, Shane Smyth (Bundoran, IE) was elected as the organisation’s sixth president with Maria Crnac Rocco (HR), Thorsten Wohleser (AT) and Evelin Koev (BG) being appointed as Vice Presidents – all for a three year term until 2027.
Following the election, incoming President Shane Smyth thanked the outgoing board of Annigje Kruytbosch – President (NL), Tibi Rotaru – Vice-President (RO), Mette Sorensen – Vice President (DK) and Miha Jese – Vice President (SL) for their work over the previous 8 years and their service to Douzelage and wished them well in the future.

Past and Future Projects:

A number of towns presented their past and future projects including:
Bad Kötzting (DE) – Promotion of Douzelage through vacant buildings – posters and information from Douzelage member towns are on display in a vacant building in Bad Kötzting, Germany.
Bundoran (IE) – The Douzelage Spotify account has been established with representatives from each of the towns collaborating on playlists of music which focuses on the culture of their country.
Bundoran (IE) – 11 representatives from 3 Douzelage partner towns travelled to Bundoran, Ireland to celebrate the Irish National Holiday – St Patrick’s Day on March 17th.
Niederanven (LU) – At a recent meeting of the BeNeLux members of Douzelage (Houffalize, Meerssen, Niederanven) in Niederanven, a totem was unveiled to promote the town’s participation in Douzelage.
Meerssen (NL) – The Free Press Under Pressure EU funded project took place in November 2023
Rovinj-Rovigno (HR) – Conclusions booklet of Cultural Heritage in our beautiful towns.
The Road to Ukraine has been an ongoing project over the past year whereby, through fundraising, and the generosity of the municipality of Niederanven, two buses will be driven to Ukraine and donated to the community of Kamenets-Podolsky, Ukraine. Volunteers from Douzelage communities will take it in turns to drive from Luxembourg to Ukraine in June.

Keynote Speaker

The keynote speaker at the meeting was Steph Aburrow from the Stepping Into Nature initiative at Dorset Natural Landscape who offered some thoughts on wonderful ideas undertaken by the group.
Stepping Into Nature in Dorset

Education Meeting:

The Education meeting was led by Chair Riikka Penttilä of Asikkala, Finland who reported the following after their workshops had concluded.
The education meeting underway in Sherborne

Youth Meeting:

The Youth Meeting was led by Youth President Zino Vreysen of Altea, Spain who reported the following after their workshops had concluded.
Youth President Zino Vreysen delivers the conclusions of the Youth Meeting
Music was also an important part of the GM with many opportunities across the few days including some wonderful performances shared during the Cheap Street Church sessions on Friday night with Leweston Music Scholars and the Sherborne Chamber Choir.
Music performances at the Cheap Street Church Sherborne