MANY happy returns between Haslemere and its German ‘twin’ Horb am Neckar were celebrated with a ceremonial tree planting on Lion Green, on Saturday last week.

Horb Mayor Jan Zeitler and Christine Dietz, who has been president of Horb am Neckar Twinning Association since 1991, headed the 23-strong delegation, who enjoyed a special welcome to mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of the charter with Haslemere and District Twinning Association.

The charter hangs in Haslemere Town Hall as a permanent reminder of the friendship between the two towns struck up in 1991.

To mark the landmark year, Horb presented and planted a Linden – or lime – tree, celebrated as the “tree of lovers” in German folklore, at a ceremony attended by both town mayors.

Christopher Ashton-Jones, of Sheen Botanical Labels, donated a commemorative plaque placed at the foot of the tree. The twin’s German guests, who arrived last Thursday and left on Sunday, also enjoyed a day trip to Winchester and a 25th anniversary gala dinner at The Georgian Hotel.

“It was a huge success,” Mr Bawtree said. “It was lovely to see the two mayors together and quite a few tears were shed when we said goodbye. Our youngest guest was 12 and the oldest was a nonagenarian.

“The planting of a lime tree was very appropriate and it has special memories for me as a student in Berlin in the days of the Iron Curtain, when Unter den Linden avenue was in East Germany.

“International relationships have become vitally important post Brexit. The Mayor of Horb’s message was how important our friendship is and the Mayor of Haslemere wants to develop the link further by joining together the chambers of commerce in each town.”