Volunteers Fred Long, Suzannah Niklas and George Niklas at the relic last summer

THE local Lions Club have stepped in to help avoid any red faces during future visits from members of Tonbridge’s twin town, Heusenstamm.

The group have made a grant of £500 to create a garden around a gift of friendship presented by the German town in 1994, to celebrate ten years of successful twinning.

In the past, the ancient relic from their Bannturm [castle] has been neglected, remaining sat amongst a patch of grass next to Tonbridge Castle’s Watergate.

Such an unremarkable display around the gift had been a source of embarrassment when dignitaries from the twin town visit.

Following the 30th anniversary of the twinning in 2004, the council gave permission for a small decorative border to be made and last spring a small group of volunteers planted a bed of colourful flowers.

The team were made up of members of the Heusenstamm Friendship Circle – an organisation that maintain close contact with the German town and encourage Tonbridge residents to travel there.

Unfortunately, due to a dwindling number of available volunteers, The Friendship Circle is unable to maintain the plot.

The group’s secretary, Eileen Best, said they were ‘anxious’ about the relic’s future, especially with a likely visit from Heusenstamm’s Burgermeister [council leader] set for next year’s Armistice commemorations.

She said that Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council had declined their request to look after the display, citing budgetary concerns.

Fortunately, the circle approached Tonbridge Lions Club, who awarded the £500 grant on Monday [March 6]. This is hoped to cover planting and maintenance for the next two years.

Mrs Best thanked the Lions for their ‘very kind’ donation, and said they are now looking for a gardener to also use the money to care for the site.