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I HAVE the privilege of being the current president of the Newcastle upon Tyne Friendship Force. I would, briefly like to remind you about the organisation.

In 1977, Newcastle hosted an official visit by Jimmy Carter, the newly-elected President of the United States, on his very first overseas visit as President. As a result of his visit, an exchange programme was commenced and was called The Friendship Force.

On July 4, 1977, 381 ‘ambassadors’ travelled to Atlanta, Georgia, the home town of President Carter, and 381 ‘ambassadors’ travelled from Atlanta to Newcastle.

All of these ambassadors stayed in the homes of hosts in Atlanta and Newcastle. This was the very first exchange between two countries in the newly-formed Friendship Force.

The mission of the organisation was to promote global understand across the barriers that separate people.

Since 1977, the Friendship Force has grown to such an extent that there are now 365 clubs in 57 countries around the world and about 225,000 ‘ambassadors’ have travelled to various parts of the world since that time, staying in the homes of the Friendship Force members.

In 1992, the Friendship Force was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the initiative between the Untied States and Russia.

The Newcastle club is still an active member of the organisation and we still have one member who participated in the first exchange in 1977.

Since 1977, the numbers of ambassadors travelling from each club has substantially reduced with about 15 to 25 members travelling at any time.

However, there is still the support for the ideals of the Friendship Force.

As it is now 35 years since the organisation was started, I am considering on behalf of the Newcastle club, looking into the possibility of organising a birthday party to celebrate the event.

I would be interested in advertising this event, both to try to attract new members and also to see if there is anyone still in the area who participated in the very first exchange in 1977 and to see if they would be interested in attending the event.

In view of this, I would like to try to gain some publicity for the Friendship Force in so, if you consider this to be something of interest, I can be contacted at the address below.

If you required further information about the Friendship Force, please look at the web site thefriendshipforce.org

Les Dixon

15 Hartburn Drive,

Chapel Park,

Newcastle upon Tyne,

NE5 1SV