Hands of Friendship
 The Story of Reading's Twinning Links

Editor: Daphne Barnes-Phillips
Cover Design: Jim Barnes-Phillips
Published by: Corridor Press in April 2003
with contributions from Dusseldorf, Clonmel,
San Francisco Libre & Barbados.
ISBN: 987-1-897715-11-0
Price £8.95 now just £5.00

Spring, 1948.  A twelve year old English girl meets the German girl who is to stay with her family in Reading for three months as part of a new venture to provide six children still suffering from the effects of World War II with a semblance of normality.  Having never met a German before, the English girl is expecting to see ‘at least one horn or maybe two, slitted green eyes and green skin’.  The girl from Düsseldorf is simply overwhelmed at being given a banana, coming as she does from a country crippled by poverty in the aftermath of the war.

So began a life-long friendship, spanning countries and cultures, and overcoming barriers and prejudices.  Over half a century later, June commented as she and Gretel recalled those times in February, 2002:

“If you’ve ever shared a knicker drawer, as Gretel and I had to do, then there’s something fundamental and basic about it and you’re bound to grow closer together, however different your later lives turn out to be!”

From such a small beginning was to come not only a link with Düsseldorf in Germany but, 46 years later, with Clonmel in Southern Ireland and San Francisco Libre in Nicaragua as well as the one formed with Speightstown in Barbados in 2003.

Written by the local people of Reading, Düsseldorf, Clonmel, San Francisco Libre and Barbados, as well as some of their mayors, the stories range from intensely personal recollections to humorous anecdotes to touching tales of unlikely friendships.  It even tells of a link which didn’t last – that of Reading with Zaandam in Holland.  As such, this book will appeal to anyone with an interest in the town of Reading and its friends throughout the world.