Reading celebrates Eurovision with twin town Dusseldorf

Germany's Lena celebrates with her national flag after winning the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2010
Image caption Germany's Lena Meyer-Landrut will defend her title

While Eurovision contestants in Dusseldorf prepare to battle for their country's honour on Saturday, Reading will also be preparing to celebrate.

Reading has been twinned with Dusseldorf since 1988, although its association with the German town dates back to 1947.

The town's Reading-Dusseldorf Association is planning a big night watching the singing contest on a big screen in an Oxford Road hotel.

The free party at the German-owned Penta Hotel will feature German 'imbiss' (snacks) and Skype link-ups throughout the evening between Reading and Dusseldorf.

They will watch the action unfold as last year's winner from Germany, Lena Meyer-Landrut, returns to defend her title on home soil.

James Freeman, vice chairman of the Reading-Dusseldorf Association, said Dusseldorf was "buzzing" with excitement about the forthcoming Eurovision competition.

"I think it's a huge event in Dusseldorf, it's caught the local imagination," he said.

Image caption Dusseldorf is "buzzing", according to James Freeman

"It is as exciting for them as the Olympics. It's impossible to get a room in Dusseldorf."

Reading's links to Dusseldorf began following World War II.

The Colonel of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, then stationed in the Rhineland, appealed to Berkshire towns for help for the undernourished children suffering from the effects of the aftermath of the war.

The Mayor of Reading, Mrs Phoebe Cusden, responded, organising the despatch of parcels of food, clothes and toys and arranging for six Dusseldorf children to stay for three months with Reading families.

The Reading and Dusseldorf Association was created in the 1940s.

Reading remains its oldest 'twin' and schools, churches and music groups from the Berkshire town continue to run exchange trips to Dusseldorf.

BBC presenter Andrew Peach will present his breakfast show from Dusseldorf on Friday on BBC Radio Berkshire.

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