In what is often called ’The Four Corner Meeting’ ten members and spouses of Middlesbrough Erimus rotary spent a truly memorable weekend in Groningen from June 16th -18th. The annual event brings together Rotary clubs from Germany (Limburg Van Der Lahn), Poland (Inowroclaw), the Netherlands (Zuidhoorn Westkwartier) and ourselves. Each club takes a turn at hosting and in addition to contributing towards an agreed good cause the experience is always a bundle of fun.

We used Teesside Airport followed by a train journey to Groningen where our hosts collected us.
Our first evening starts with a ’get together’ at the spacious thatched home of Audrey and KeesJan Koops – Autuma, lots of chatter old and new friends meeting and renewing connections, sparkling wine matching the conversations. Impressive gardens but the show is stolen by a pair of pet goats who obligingly mount their enclosure fence for some petting.
Now its our ‘In home ‘ family meal and we are hosted outdoors by Joke and Jan assisted by Josien and Gebert,the latter two we shall literally hear from later in the weekend. A great meal, loads of fellowship, young friends join the party, they are all musical and at one stage we are all singing together.
At the end of our evening its back with our host Wilgis to her home in the leafy suburbs of Aduard once home to a large Cistercian monastery. Wilgis is a very successful audiologist who used Covid isolation to relearn recorder playing and now boasts a collection of the simple instruments ranging from Soprano to Bass.
Saturday dawns fine once more and its into central Groningen for a second get together this time with Coffee and Cake-a recurring feature of the weekend. We have a guide around the medieval city including a beautiful rose garden recreated from plans of its 17th Century laying out. Our guide departs and we change timeframes moving into the central very modern city tower Forum which lies cheek by jowl with its much older predecessor the almost 600 year old Martini tower. The new structure which overcame early doubters hosts the cities library,museum, cinema, exhibitions and a learning centre with hundreds of students . We are whisked to the top and a viewing gallery with panoramic sights across the landscape from a height of almost 50 metres. Next stop is a restaurant for our lunch and the ‘Business Meeting’. This is a staple of the
Euromeeting and the point at which the host club announce their proposal for this year’s chosen Social Action project. For the first time in its over 25 year history we choose the same aim which is to send one thousand Euros each to the Ukraine via our Polish partners from Inowroclaw. Krzysztof a former President of their rotary then explains the efforts they have made to ensure that not a penny of our previous donations has been wasted. Krzysztof gives a PowerPoint presentation which is amplified as he speaks of his fear driving a full van of much needed kit to Lviv. We know its awful but this is someone who has personally experienced the horror on our behalf and that makes it personal. We commit to hosting in Middlesbrough next year-What an act to follow and then its out into the open air and back to our hosts homes.
Our evening event is a fifteen minute drive from Wilgis’ home and is perched on the edge of a lake (Leekstermeer) with long views, sultry heat and all of our friends together old and new. Gifts from each of the clubs to their host group are presented with speeches recognising the value of simply being together. The ‘ Four Corner ‘ meeting has once more supported a table of friendship without boundaries between us. We give half a dozen bottles of British sparkling wine which offers the opportunity to reflect on previous failed Brexit schemes -The Romans leaving , William Conquering , Henry VIII trashing his Treaty of Rome and now global warming giving us our own Champagne. Its all fun and a bouncing disco gets rid of many of our recently gained calories. The annual Euromeeting putting competition which we have been told to lose turns out to be the most competitive ever with our highly inexperienced trio led by former PE teacher Peter Swan who just hates to lose. It goes to a fifth round before Erimus prove disobediently successful swanning in all three of the final putts ! Its late before we leave with fond farewells for those who must depart early for home.
Sunday’s gathering is quieter in one sense as we join together in the historic Dutch Reformed Church at Tolbert. Rehearsals are in progress as we gather for more coffee and cakes-we take our pews for a delightful Junior orchestral concert . Our first dinner host Josien conducts her charges whilst Gebert accompanies them on the piano in a varied programme which features the melodic and deeply touching ‘Prayer for Ukraine’ – We are all moved once again . An upbeat Star Wars performance brings a standing ovation , what a great crescendo finale to a superb programme. Goodbyes are shared and its time to go, so much in such a short space but we have reminded ourselves and our fellow Rotarians that we can still do good things together, we are better for knowing and sharing and we shall continue to work together to make tomorrow better. Until next year in Middlesbrough when the Four Corners are joined again- All the Best.
Pics show
Getting together,
Groningen Guiding
Evening Lakeside

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