Global Friendship Cities
Willoughby City Council has five friendly city relationships, which are reflective of our community and are based on community development and cultural exchange. These relationships are with:
Council’s Global Friendship Committee co-ordinates these relationships and advises Council on all matters relating to friendly city ties and humanitarian based projects. The Committee consists of Councillors, Council officers and community representatives.
Willoughby’s Friendly Cities
Willoughby’s first friendly city relationship was signed with Suginami, the eighth largest city in Tokyo, Japan, in May 1990. The aim of the agreement was to promote cultural, community, educational, sporting and economic exchange and to further peace and understanding. The relationship also reflects the large proportion of Willoughby residents from a Japanese speaking background.
The most successful exchange has been the student exchange program. Several staff exchanges have also taken place, to share knowledge and expertise.
On 20 June 2015, Willoughby Council, members of the Global Friendship Committee and a delegation from Suginami City celebrated 25 Years between Suginami City and Willoughby City, and a renewed declaration of friendship between the two cities was signed.
The relationship between Willoughby and Bingara started after a period of terrible drought in NSW. Bingara, located 150 km north of Tamworth, and 604 km north of Sydney, was hit hard in 1994 and Willoughby’s then Mayor, Councillor John Squire, initiated a campaign to provide relief to Bingara families. A community donation of $3,000 was made and 250 Christmas presents were provided to Bingara children.
Today, Bingara encompasses a diverse region which is both picturesque and productive. It is also home to the beautiful Roxy Theatre, which boasts some of the most striking art deco architecture and features that exist in New South Wales, including original fixtures and fittings, ornate stucco plaster and paintwork, and coloured lights from 1936.
Each year, Willoughby participates in Bingara’s Orange Festival and Bingara participates in the Willoughby Street Fair. A youth exchange also occurs every year, providing a great opportunity for local students to experience country life.
On 6 November 2008, a small delegation from Guardia, Sanframondi, Italy arrived in Willoughby as part of the ten-year anniversary of the arrival of the statue of Our Lady of the Assumption at St Leonard’s Church, Naremburn. The statue was dedicated to the Italian community of Willoughby, many of whose members migrated from Guardia between 1950 and 1970.
Located in the Province of Benevento in the Campania region of Italy, Guardia is home to medieval castles and traditions, with most of the old section of the town accessible only by foot. It is best known for its hosting of the riti settennali di penitenz or penitential rite every seven years, when the discovery of the Madonna and Child statue found in a field hundreds of years ago is honoured.
Willoughby’s Global Friendship Committee is investigating how Willoughby and Guardia can create opportunities to share in the areas of culture, education, travel and economic development now and into the future.
Gangdong-gu, South Korea
On 27 June 2011, Willoughby City Council signed a friendly city agreement with the City of Gangdong-gu in Korea.
In celebration, a Chunma-chong Crown was presented to the former Mayor of Willoughby, the Late Councillor Pat Reilly, by Mayor of Gangdong-Gu Mr Hae-Sik Lee in the presence of Mt Soung-Woo Seo, Deputy Consul-General of the Republic of Korea and Director General of Gaok Oceania and Willoughby Councillors. The crown is a reproduction of one of Korea’s national treasures; a Silla gold crown, found in an ancient tomb located at Hwangnam-dong, Kyongiu, Korea in 1973. The original crown is estimated to date from the late fifth to the early sixth century A.D.
Willoughby hosted a Korean Flag Raising Ceremony on 23 October 2012 to acknowledge Korean Foundation Day and a visit by Mr Hae-Sik Lee, Mayor of our Friendly City, Gangdong-gu.
To commemorate Willoughby’s 150th Anniversary in 2015, Helena Kim Ju, Governing Director of the World Egg Artists Association in the City of Gangdong-gu, Korea, donated an exquisitely decorated egg, enhanced with gold, mother of pearl and crystals. Plants and flowers represent the vegetation of Willoughby, and symbols of harmony represent its multicultural nature.
Nork Nor, Yerevan, Armenia
Willoughby’s most recent friendly city agreement was signed with Nork Nor in the Armenian capital of Yerevan on 8 November 2015.
The aims of this agreement are to enhance and enrich both communities, to contribute to lasting peace and prosperity and to develop long-term friendships. The spirit of good will is hoped to provide opportunities for this generation and future generations.
On the day of the ceremony, a memorial Armenian cross-stone or khachkar was unveiled. It made its way from Armenia to its location in Beauchamp Park, Chatswood. The master sculptor, Varaztad Hambardzumyan, held workshops leading up to the official unveiling demonstrating the unique skill of his craft.