Presentation of Plaque of Honour

The Borough of Rushmoor has become only the third authority in the United Kingdom to receive the Council of Europe’s Plaque of Honour for its excellent work in building community links with its twin towns.

The Mayor of Rushmoor, Councillor Peter Crerar, received the prestigious award on behalf of the borough at the Mayor’s Ball from Sir Alan Meale, member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

The Plaque of Honour is the second highest award in the Council of Europe's Europe Prize, set up in 1955 to recognise local and regional authorities for their active promotion of European friendships, links and partnerships.

To achieve it, Rushmoor has already won a European Diploma in 2007 and a Flag of Honour from the Council of Europe in 2009.

The Plaque of Honour recognises the work of the Twinning Association of Rushmoor to develop links between community groups, schools and organisations in Aldershot and Farnborough with those in the borough's twin towns in France, Germany and Poland.

About 30 local clubs, organisations and schools are actively taking part in events, exchanges and links and events. These have included a Dance Your Socks Off event, which brought together dance schools from across the twin towns and involved more than 80 local children, and a bandstand marathon when bands from The Sixth Form College Farnborough and the twin towns performed alongside each other at the new Jubilee bandstand in Aldershot.

The award is a particularly high accolade for the borough, as the Council of Europe only bestowed 12 Plaques this year out of the 600 authorities who applied for one. Normally, it goes to much bigger European authorities and since it began, only two UK authorities have ever received it – Edinburgh and Leicester.

Brian Jupp, Chairman of the Twinning Association, said: "We are thrilled that the Borough of Rushmoor has received this award.  It is fantastic recognition of the many links that our community groups, schools and organisations have developed with our twin towns of Meudon, Oberursel and Sulechow."

"As a result of these links, many people, particularly students, have been able to take up opportunities – educational, sporting and music in particular - that they would not otherwise have had. We are especially thrilled because it's such a major achievement for a small borough like ours."

As well as the formal presentation of the Plaque, The Sixth Form College Farnborough and the Twinning Association organised a celebratory reception at the College for the local groups, organisations and schools that have active links with one or more of the twin towns.

Alison Boukhobza, twinning coordinator, said:  "This is our way of saying thank you to all the local groups and schools that take up the twin town opportunities and have enabled us to win this award. We are extremely grateful to The Sixth Form College for allowing us to use their premises for this event.  The College has links with all three twin towns and is an excellent example of how to make twinning work."

Simon Jarvis, College Principal, added: "The College is delighted to have provided a venue for the reception.  Our students have benefitted from the opportunities offered by the Twinning Association. The Jazz Band, 'The Time Out Septet', who entertained guests at the reception, recently enjoyed a successful tour with the Twinning Association to Meudon, in France, where they played at the Christmas Markets and entertained local school children".