GERMANY'S leading diplomat in the UK paid his first visit to Selkirk this week – and acknowledged the continuing success of the town's twinning arrangement with Plattling, writes Andrew Keddie.
"He had heard that our twinning was one of the most vibrant and meaningful involving German and Scottish towns and was making a real impact on our respective local economies," said Plattling Association chairman John Munro.
Mr Munro and his vice-chairman Ian Cockburn had been asked by Scottish Borders Council convener Alasdair Hutton to meet Ingo Radcke, Consul General of Germany, at Selkirk Glass on Monday afternoon.
"Herr Radcke has a particular interest in tourism links between our countries and we were rather surprised he knew all about Selkirk," said Mr Munro, who spent more than an hour explaining how the bond with Plattling had flourished since the twinning ceremony seven years ago.
Since the event, there had been around 300 official Selkirk visitors to Plattling, mostly involving groups such a firemen and schoolchildren, but also Selkirk Football Club, who played in a Bavarian tournament last year, and the Selkirk Incorporation of Hammermen. The latter had even helped set up a Plattling branch of their ancient craft. Many smaller groups had also made the journey.
In turn, 250 visitors from Plattling had come to the Royal Burgh, boosting shops and hotels in Selkirk and across the Borders. "This year alone, we have the entire Plattling Council and their partners coming for the Common Riding while the Plattling school orchestra will play at Both Sides Of The Tweed music festival," said Mr Munro.
"Mr Radcke told us that, because of the twinning and its reputation, many other Germans came to Selkirk and based themselves here before heading off to tour the rest of Scotland."
Mr Munro added: "Many private visits have been spawned by the twinning which now has a momentum of its own.
"That is one of the reasons that, after Americans, Germans are now the most frequent foreign visitors to Scotland."