Exchange visit led to South Shields’ group’s lasting friendships

Members of the Temperance Gospel Church Youth Band, Laygate.
Members of the Temperance Gospel Church Youth Band, Laygate.

Back in 1991, members of the Temperance Gospel Church Youth Band, Laygate, South Shields, were photographed as they appealed for sponsorship backing from local businesses in order to take part in a youth exchange visit with Danish Boys Brigade units.

Not only did the visit take place, it paved the way for more to follow – along with the establishment of some lasting friendships between the two parties.

Some of the original exchange visit members back together again recently.

Some of the original exchange visit members back together again recently.

Details of the exchange visits come from Dave Cooper, who saw the picture online and got in touch.

He wrote of the 1991 visit: “We left from the Royal Quays, taking two buses.

“The buses were around 20/25 years old, one was used for ourselves while the other one was used by the Danes.

“While we were there, we went to Esberg and on to our friends’ national campsite where around 10,000 people had gathered.

The national camp where 10,000 people were in attendance.

The national camp where 10,000 people were in attendance.

“We did all sorts of activities, much of which included the use of wood, which the Danes chopped down. Once we were finished with the wood we were able to reuse it, and it got sold onto different companies.”

Although some trees were chopped down, around 20,000 others were planted.

“While we were at camp, we went out and visited a few different places, including Arhuus and Blomster Park, playing at both locations.

“During our time there, we spent a week at camp and then lived in the Danes’ houses for a week.

“We also visited Legoland where both bands preformed – we were also able to play the same music which looked impressive and sounded fantastic.

“We also went to Copenhagen where we played at the Tivoli Gardens, before travelling to Sweden, where once again, the bands were able to play in the big square in Malmo, a restaurant owner invited us in and fed everyone.

“Since then, we have been to Denmark another three times and the Danes have visited us four times. During these visits we were able to take the Danes to all of the big theme parks where the bands performed – and got in free of charge.

“We are now 27 years on since our first exchange and there are still some great friendships. When there are big celebrations, such as anniversaries or special birthdays we will visit them or they will visit us,” added Dave, who is captain of the 10th South Shields Boys Brigade and Girls Association.