Twinning With Toftlund

Our Club has been twinned for many years with a Rotary Club in Toftlund, Denmark. Exchange visits happen on a regular basis

How the Twinning with Toftlund came about

In 1969 Alan Evens, Chair of the Club's International Committee, decided that he would find a Club that Baldock could "Twin" with. To try and find such a Club Alan contacted Rotary International and put in a request that would be circulated worldwide. Initially there was no response and then a Club on a Norwegian island just inside the Arctic Circle responded. Thinking that transport to and from this Club would be too difficult it was regretfully decided to say “No, thank you”.

A little later that year Alan was contacted by a Danish Club based in Toftlund (Denmark), saying that they would send 7 delegates to the Baldock Club the following month. The Club pulled together and, despite the short notice, agreed to host the Danes and give a Civic reception to mark the twinning of the two clubs. The Chair of Baldock Town Council at the time was a gentleman called Olaf Hoeg, of Danish extraction. He gave a speech in Danish, much to the surprise of the Toftlund visitors.

Baldock's Visit to Toftlund May 2015

Nineteen members and wives from Baldock Rotary Club continued the clubs long-standing tradition (it commenced in 1969) of exchange visits with the Rotary Club of Toftlund in South Jutland, Denmark.

The exchange week-end, which takes place every two years, started with a flight to Billund, a small town in Jutland most notable as the home of the LEGO Group head office and for Billund Airport which is the second largest airport in Denmark.

After being met by the Danish host families the evening was spent with the families before an extensive programme of activities commenced.

In keeping with the tradition of this exchange as well as enjoying each other’s friendship and fellowship, the hospitality enjoyed from fine wining and dining has become an important aspect of the week-end and this year to get things started a welcome lunch was held at Gram Castle, Slotsvej where the President of Toftlund Rotary Club, Mogens Henriksen, welcomed Baldock Rotary members and their wives.

After a leisurely afternoon with hosts, a black-tie dinner for 57 people was held at Brundtland Golf restaurant where an excellent meal was followed by speeches by the respective club Presidents Mogens Henriksen and Michael Hall, who bravely delivered his speech in Danish much to the admiration of all guests. As is traditional the visiting club members sang a medley of well known songs before more professional entertainment was provided by Per Nielsen, the principal trumpeter with the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra and dancing to duet Two4You.  No doubt the highlight of the evening was the appearance of four beautifully dressed ‘flower girls’ who danced and mingled with guests, giving away red roses, as they made themselves known, particularly to the male members of Baldock Rotary Club!!  Not surprisingly there were strong similarities between these ‘girls’ and four members of Toftlund Rotary Club.

The following day a boat trip from Haderslev took us on the seven mile trip through the narrow and winding Haderslev fiord to the island of Aaro where a tour of the island took place on trailers towed by tractors before taking the ferry back to Aarosund on the mainland.  After a long day out and much fresh air the evening was spent being entertained in smaller groups with hosts and other Toftlund club members.

The following day a farewell lunch was provided at the home of club members Niels Chrisensen and Lis Dahl where the traditional ‘challenge’ took place between teams representing both clubs.  This year the challenge was loosely based on the game of darts.  Loosely, as it took place outdoors in a howling wind.  However, despite some questionable scoring the winners were judged to be the team from Baldock and the challenge trophy, as is the custom was duly presented to visiting President Michael for safe keeping until it is contested once more in two years time.

Thus concluded this year’s exchange trip provided outstanding hospitality, fellowship, an expansion of the waistline and a tremendous example of Rotary at its ‘international’ best.

Congratulations to the Toftlund club for organising another excellent exchange visit.


Baldock Club's First Visit to Toftlund in 1970

The first visitors from our Club were Jim & Doreen Bowman, Ken & Rusty Crump, Alan & Ivy Evens, Michael & Judith Gardiner, Edgar & Elsie Greenwood, Richard & Marion Larkinson, Dan & Kathleen Riddell, Richard & Diana Sanderson and Reg & Mrs Smith. Sadly many of these people are no longer with us.

The History of the “CHALLENGE”, as recalled by Alan Evens

“It was in 1983 that Baldock Rotary was looking forward to a stroll in a Danish forest and then a picnic. The weather was forbidding and, after getting quite damp, we were not looking forward to a picnic in the rain. But out of the gloom we saw a marquee, which had been erected by one of Toftlund’s Rotarians in preparation for a motorcycle meeting of his son, and happily trooped inside. There we enjoyed Danish hospitality, i.e. Schnapps and Lager, which lifted our spirits literally.

I remember Henning (the parson) groaning under the weight of crates of lager. When boys have nothing to occupy them they get into mischief and Peder Sonderby (farmer, later MEP for the area) and David Woolven (ex-Royal Navy and doctor) decided to climb the tent poles at either end of the marquee. I think it must have been David who had the idea, having been in the Navy and familiar with masts. David climbed the pole in no time and, despite his short stature, won the challenge.

Upon return to Baldock a trophy was made to give to Toftlund 2 years later, marking the good time had. The contest has taken many forms since - racing on children’s scooters and even song compositions - but the tradition was established that the host team never wins.”

The tradition carries on

At first the Clubs visited one another every year, alternating the venue; this took up much time and effort, but established strong fellowship and friendship. Later it was decided that it would be every other year, starting from 1969, meaning that every 4 years Baldock host Toftlund and vice versa (always a year with an odd number).

The Danes always prefer to arrive for the Ascension Day weekend (public holiday in Denmark), although this is changed when it would clash with the Baldock Festival in May.

Included in the visit is an excursion, so that each Club can appreciate the culture and landscape of the other. In 2013 this took the form of a boat trip on the Thames, including lunch.

One each occasion there is a black-tie dinner, which has been held in many interesting locations, including an Elizabethan banquet at Hatfield House. During the dinner the visiting town must have a repertoire of songs to entertain the hosts, including speeches, which are always supposed to be sung. And, of course, the “Challenge” is played out (though rarely climbing flag poles any more) and the trophy is won once again.

Preparations are already under way in Toftlund for the 2015 visit to Baldock, as this team picture shows:

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