www.watton-norfolk.org.uk  Richard@watton-norfolk.org.uk

Janis Crabtree A Weeze tribute

On Saturday 18th June the Mayor and Councillors along with past and present Twinning Chairmen of our twin town of Weeze
gathered to honour the memory of Janis Crabtree. Janis had championed Twinning from its early days and was an
excellent contact and go between, supporting the partnership between Watton and Weeze.

The Mayor, Ulrich Francken, spoke of the origin of the twinning links. He said “In 1984 Group Captain Ray Hart,
an officer from RAF Laarbruch set up the initial contacts with Watton. Following several meetings, the Town Council
and people of Watton, agreed to the link and Heinz Wienen, the Chief Executive Officer from Weeze, went to see
Janis in her home accompanied by his wife and daughter to start the link process in 1986. The official Twinning
Charters were signed in both towns in early 1987 by Janis and Lionel Fleet, the then Town Clerk”.

He spoke of the early twinning trips where links were started with some families, which still exist, ever stronger,
today. Friendly relationships were developed and included over the years Youth Groups, Runners and Sporting clubs.
Celebrations in Weeze included such things as Advent parties, barbeques, a night trip on a musical steamer, c
ycling tours and many trips of interest to the local towns and cities in this very beautiful part of Germany.
A major highlight of twinning was the Kermes, (beer festival) in Weeze in 1987 where the Twinning Association of Weeze
were the main organisers and many of our Watton members took part in the main procession. Janis nurtured a lively
contact with the Weeze administration and the Twinning Association and the Weeze citizens.
She visited the Municipality regularly and enjoyed the company of her twinning family.

Herr Franken said “In her position of Mayor, which she held on several occasions she always tried, with
vigour and idealism, to accompany, strengthen and support the partnership ideal of the two towns as well
as steering the ideas and desires for a good joint relationship in the right directions. There are some destinies,
which are difficult to comprehend. In terms of human measurement she passed away last year, far too early.
With her vigour she helped to ensure that the friendly relationship between Watton and Weeze
continually grew. In honour of her memory, I will unveil a photograph which will continually
remind us of her and reflect on her contribution to the twinning”

Husband Richard was at the ceremony and later joined members of the Weeze Twinning Association
at a cycle ride. The whole area is served by wide cycle paths where hundreds of the local residents,
in groups or singularly, ride out regularly to enjoy the beautiful countryside, which includes a river,
old country houses and a zoo. A barbeque was enjoyed, as was the 60th anniversary service to
mark the end of the war. The presence of the Mayor and his wife Elizabeth finally at the barbeque
made this a special day. Sunday saw us at a tradition British Car Boot Sale followed by a visit to
the district Shooting Clubs celebrations at the Sports Centre. A warm welcome was enjoyed at
the home of the first twinning Chairman, Christiana Siao and her husband Kim.

RAF Laarbruch disappeared as the RAF withdrew from many of its bases in Germany.
It has now been turned into a civilian airport, Airport Dusseldorf Weeze, and is a destination for Ryanair
flying out of Stanstead for as little as 99p. The cost of flights has led to twinners from Watton travelling
to Weeze far more frequently than on the traditional ferries.

Weeze has expanded over the past few years and has a large industry base and many new houses,
having recovered from the departure of the RAF which reduced the population by almost 50% as the
airmen came home. It is looking for links with individuals and clubs to extend its twinning relationship
with Watton. Our schools and the Firemen are already considering a link and anyone interested should
contact, in the first instance, the Watton Chairman, Margaret Devine on 01953 883317.

A direct Weeze website is at www.weeze.de