Visiting Lochaber Rotary Club in Fort William (District 1230) on August 29th, 2018
Dear Mr McCorkindale, dear Donald, as Immediate Past president you are in the chair today, as your current president, Mr Iain Johnston, has to meet other commitments this week. And the interesting thing is: I wrote to you first on July 20th.
Dear Mr Heathcote, dear Geoff, as the current secretary you were the first one – and you did it so quickly – to respond to this email I have just referred to.
Dear Mr Hutchison, dear John, you are obviously the one in this club that talks a little German and perhaps therefore you were asked to take over after Geoff. A regular exchange of emails between you and me started and with each email, we got to know more about each other and the two of us started making plans. And fate would have it: Now you are even a special guide for us.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of Lochaber Rotary Club, I – that is we – thank you so much that you were immediately ready and willing to reschedule your normal Rotary meeting at 1 p.m. to be an evening meeting today.
Dear Rotarian friends and partners of my own club named Wipperfürth- Lindlar/Romerike Berge.
With regard to history, in comparison to your club – date of the charter: June 19th, 1950 – we are a young club as we were chartered on September 26th, 2009. Our first president, the late Mayor of Wipperfürth, Mr. Guido Forsting, had taken the initiative, had asked people in Lindlar and Wip- perfürth had made sure that this new club would have male as well as
female members and would be dedicated to Rotarian guiding principles: “Service above yourself” and “One profit most who serves best”.
I remember numerous meetings when we discussed new projects to raise the funds to support people in need. We were well aware of the fact that we had only a small number of members, but all of us were keen on doing something, on achieving something. Here are some of our projects which might be of interest to you.
Water for the people of Kimbulu, a community in the southwest of the Congo: In 2016 our club realized this large project of about 85,000.00 € with the help of Rotary International. Daily, about 25,000 people had had to fetch their water from a river six kilometres away and the water had not been germ-free. Now they have a huge 20,000-litre tank with fresh water and a pump that is driven by solar energy.
Poliovirus – a worldwide Rotary project: In our club, the money for the eradication of poliovirus comes from typical “hands-on” projects: e.g. baking waffles or poffertjes, a traditional Dutch batter treat. For several years we had a stand at the Christ-mas market in Wipperfürth to sell mulled wine and biscuits. This year we will have a stand in an open-air museum in Lindlar. What we enjoy most when we realize such projects is the company of our fellow members and our partners.
Young people: Young people are our future. Therefore we especially concentrate on supporting them.
- This year we support a school in Wipperfürth that is going to celebrate its 50th anniversary. We help them financially (15,000.00 €) with their big music project, a review.
- About every third year we have a group of young people from all over the world staying in our region. This summer camp aims at developing and improving international friendships and networking among young people. We like to welcome these young people and let them explore our region in the heart of Germany with the most interesting contrasts between the world-famous city of Cologne and the beauty of the countryside, and its unique side by side of traditional farming, forestry and industrial culture.
- And there is the public speaking competition between young people of different kinds of schools like grammar schools, secondary schools and vocational schools in our area. And we are very proud that our regional winners have been winners at the district level as well for the last three years.But who are we? Where is Wip- perfürth? Where is Lindlar? What does the addition “Romerike Berge” in our club’s name refer to? I would like to explain all these questions now:
Lindlar is a community in the Oberbergischer Kreis, in North Rhine- Westphalia. It is located about 30 km east of Cologne. It has about 21,200 inhabitants.
Wipperfürth is a neighbouring town, about 40 km north-east of Cologne, and the oldest town (800 years old) in The Bergisches Land. It has about 21,300 inhabitants. Wipperfürth received town rights in 1217. Since 1283 the administration of the town was governed by count Adolf V. of Berg. The Bergisches Land used to be a territory of the County of Berg, which later became the Duchy of Berg, and that is the reason why this region bears this name.
The Bergisches Land is a low mountain range region within the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, east of the Rhine River, south of the Ruhr. The landscape is shaped by woods, meadows, rivers and creeks and contains over 20 artificial lakes. Wuppertal is one of the biggest towns and seen as the region’s capital, whereas the southern part nowadays has closer economic and socio-cultural ties to Cologne. Neighbouring towns to Wuppertal are Remscheid and So- linen; all three of them form the Bergisches Städtedreieck, the Bergisches triangle of towns.
But what about the additional words “Romerike Berge” in our club’s name? Well, follow me on a short historical journey into medieval times and my knowledge derives from the book “The Art of Warfare in Western Europe during the Middle Ages” written by Prof. J. F. Verbruggen:
In 1283 the Duchess Irmgard of Lim- burg had died childless. The question of succession started off a five years’ war. The neighbouring nobility saw a chance of enlarging their power by territorial expansion. That was especially a serious threat to the archbishop of Cologne, Siegfried II, who till then had been dominant in that part of the Rhineland. The conflict was unresolved until 1288. Then the citizens of Cologne rose against their archbishop. The Battle of Worringen was fought on June 5th, 1288, near the town of Worringen, which is now the northernmost borough of Cologne. It was the decisive battle of the War of the Limburg Succession, fought for the possession of the Duchy of Limburg between the Archbishop of Cologne and Duke John I of
Brabant, and one of the largest battles in Europe in the Middle Ages.
It was a bloody battle and a long one. The archbishop himself was putting up a very credible fight in the front rank of his knights. This formation, however, was broken up after a long and tough battle when the Brabant troops had almost managed to break through. At about 3 o’clock the knights and peasants of the count of Berg came on the scene with the civic levy from Cologne. Berg’s peasants were wearing jackets and skull caps and some of them had iron plates as protective armour. Most of them were armed with spiked clubs. The men of Cologne were better equipped; some of them had coats of mail, some hauberks and swords. The peasants advanced shouting their war cry: “Hya, Berge romerike!” A Brabant horseman led them around behind the troops of the archbishop of Cologne. Now the flank became the decisive sector. As soon as the archbishop saw these rough peasants appearing behind his troops, he would have given himself up to Godfrey of Brabant rather than fall into the hands of his own citizens. But the ground between them was so heaped with dead horses that the archbishop could not carry out his intention and had to give himself up to his neighbour, Adolf of Berg, who immediately had taken him off to his castle.
Well, now you know that “Romerike Berge” was a war cry of the Bergische peasants to strengthen their moral forces, to develop a corporate spirit while fighting. You know now that The Bergisches Land is named after the dukes of Berg and that this war cry does not only have a strong relation to the dukes of Berg, but also to the region where we live, where our homes are. On our club’s homepage, you can read that Wipperfürth and
Lindlar feels strongly connected to this war cry.
The region Bergisches Land became famous during the period of its early industrialisation in the 19th century. After the industrial downturn from the 1960s on, the region lost importance, but cooperations by Bergisches Land entrepreneurs, active citizens and politicians are bringing back some regional awareness and economic power. And we are proud of having some of these entre- preneurs and active citizens in our club. Our politician Peter Biesenbach, current minister of justice of North Rhine-Westphalia, was part of our group when we visited Scotland last time in 2017.
We have a brief club history, have little funds, but we stick together, are strong, have a common purpose and direction and follow the Rotarian guiding principles. And we are open to new ideas, possibilities, and new friends …
May I hand over to you now
- our banner as a sign of our friendship and gratefulness for having us here today and thus being able to enjoy your kind and generous hospitality,
- a book about Wipperfürth so that you get an impression of where we live and
- something really special from our region, a local herbal schnapps from Lindlar, to support your moral spirits when you vigorously/heatedly discuss things and no solution seems to be emerging.Marga Radermacher
Fort William, August 29th, 2018