Glasses were raised and laughs were had as Preston celebrated the platinum anniversary of its twinning partnership with Dutch city Almelo.
Representatives of the two cities descended upon the Town Hall last night for a ceremony as part of week-long twinning celebrations.
Mayor of Preston, Coun Brian Rollo, kicked off proceedings by welcoming the Mayor of Almelo, Arjen Gerritsen, as well as the mayors of Preston’s three other twinned cities – Kalisz in Poland, Reckinghausen in Germany, and Nimes in France.
Mayor Rollo said: “We have been twinned since 1948. It’s a very different place since then. [But] it’s not about places, it’s about friendship.”
Almelo Mayor Arjen Gerritsen said: “Coming to Preston is about consolidating our relationship for the future.”
Mayor Gerritsen proceeded to present Mayor Rollo with a memorial plate to mark the occasion, followed by a steel print of Almelo’s new city emblem.
Joking about it being placed on the entrance to the Town Hall, Mayor Geritsen jested: “There are some screws to go with that!”
Speaking afterwards, Derek Smith of the Preston Twinning Partnership praised the friendship between the two cities, especially in the face of the UK leaving the European Union in the near future.
Smith said: “We are leaving the EU but not leaving our friends in Europe. This is an opportunity to form stronger relationships.
"Let this anniversary be the start of something big, great and wonderful.”
To commemorate the anniversary, an art exhibition called The Dutch Connection is being hosted at Ham and Jam cafe across from the Town Hall.
The exhibition is the brainchild of Preston Arts Society and runs until April 29.
Coffee shop owner Richard Lowthian said: “We get behind anything that helps us support what the city has.
Anything we can do to help to promote friendship across different cultures is great – and coffee shops are always a great place to interact and have a chat.”
Chairman of Preston Arts Society, Lyn Pyatt, said: “We went to Almelo in 2015 and it was amazing. The Dutch are an amazing people and so friendly. It’s vital to keep links for so many reasons.”