Wooler is one of 10 UK communities to have been selected to take part in a domestic twinning trial aimed at reinvigorating local economies.
The Northumberland village has been paired with Broughshane, the village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, around 3.5 miles north-east of Ballymena.
The new coupling follows the search for twinned partnerships launched in October last year by the Carnegie UK Trust.
In a new twist to the traditional concept of town twinning, which dates back to the Second World War, the aim was to pair towns with similar characteristics or challenges, but potentially with different back stories and approaches, to consider how to make positive change in the future.
While both towns draw on a number of similarities and both have a keen community spirit, Wooler is highly dependent on the self-employment sector, while Broughshane is linked more closely with the private sector. However, both towns are united in the fact that they want to reinvigorate their town centre and tourism offer.
Over the coming 18 months, both towns will build their ties, develop a body of evidence, receive economic planning support and have access to catapult funds to kick-start new commercial, voluntary and social enterprise activity. The initial six months of the partnership will see each of the towns devise a twinning action plan that could reignite their fortunes.
Gina Wilson, development manager at the Carnegie UK Trust, said: “Twin Towns is aimed at encouraging towns to make a positive impact locally, especially at a time when devolution of power to cities and regions is becoming more prevalent.
“In fostering new relationships with partners that towns might not have considered before, it will provide a new perspective and hopefully new solutions to real and current issues. While we don’t expect the towns’ concerns to be resolved overnight, we hope that the new partnerships will be the start of something positive.”
The Wooler Twin Town partnership is being led by the Glendale Gateway Trust.
Trust chairman, Frank Mansfield, said: “If this scheme simply allows us to steal some of Broughshane’s best ideas, it will be worth it. But there’s a real possibility it could make a significant difference to our community too. It’s always worth taking the time to look at how other successful organisations do things.”
For more information, visit www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/project/twintowns/