On March 18, under the headline: “Twinning on the cards with USAF”, the Lynn News reported on steps being taken to ‘Twin’ Hunstanton with the 67th Special Operations Squadron, which received the Freedom of the town in 2014 in recognition of the special relationship that was forged out of tragedy and heroism in 1953.
Following the return of the 67th to the town in November 2012, to celebrate its 60th anniversary, friendships have been formed that look set to last well beyond tours of duty at RAF Mildenhall.
Col. Shelley Rodriguez, commander of the 67th from 2011 to 2013, returned to Hunstanton for the Freedom event in October 2014 and expressed her unequivocal support for Twinning. Her immediate successor, Col John Peak, now living in Tampa, Florida, sent an email just last week to say he and his wife often reminisce about their time in England and look back fondly on the special times they had in Hunstanton, and how the whole experience of the Freedom event would always be the highlight of his career.
Last May, John Peak handed over command of the 67th to Col Bradley Downs and in his most recent email he said he was very grateful for the honour of being Twinned with Hunstanton and for all the hard work being put in by Town Mayor Andrew Murray and the rest of the Twinning Group, chaired by Councillor David Jones.
While everyone seems to recognise the significance of twinning, questions have been raised about the purpose of Hunstanton’s Coastal Community Team, which according to a government website is supposed to be a partnership consisting of the local authority and a range of people and business interests from a coastal community who have an understanding of the issues facing that area and can develop an effective forward strategy for that place.
The Team should include a range of local stakeholders and have broad support.
Coastal Community Teams were launched in July 2015 by Mark Francois, the Coastal Communities Minister with whom I will have a meeting very soon. One of the aims of these Teams is to encourage sustainable uses of heritage and cultural assets, so I will be asking Mark Francois how this might be something to benefit from the launch of a White Paper by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, which pledges to put arts and culture at the heart of everyday life and not just for the privileged few.
The Culture White Paper includes a plan to inspire children from poorer families by giving them access to actors and curators. This brings to mind the close proximity of the Town Hall, Princess Theatre and Heritage Centre. Surely our Coastal Community Team would have broad support if it could obtain a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to ensure that residents and visitors alike can benefit from Culture and Heritage in Hunstanton.