Community leader bestowed with German medal honour

A Staffordshire man has been awarded one of the highest honours bestowed by the German government, for his work on forming bonds between a town in Germany with one in Staffordshire.

Terry Dix being presented with the Federal Cross of Merit from German ambassador Andreas Michaelis, Photo: German Embassy
Terry Dix being presented with the Federal Cross of Merit from German ambassador Andreas Michaelis, Photo: German Embassy

Terry Dix, a former mayor of Tamworth, received the Federal Cross of Merit from German ambassador Andreas Michaelis in July.

He first dedicated himself to fostering close relations between Germany and the UK in the 1980s, and is described as being ‘tireless’ in his efforts to establish the town twinning between Bad Laasphe and Tamworth.

He also took an interest in the Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery and memorial, and was praised by the German government for his "selfless interest, in the name of peace and understanding."

The award was presented to Mr Dix during a ceremony at the German Embassy in London.

Ambassador Andreas Michaelis commented: "Town twinnings create vibrant links between our societies. Now, especially, they are more important than ever.

"Each one of the more than 480 twinnings between German and British communities builds bridges between our countries and brings people closer together.

"Your outstanding commitment to supporting the twinning between Bad Laasphe and Tamworth over decades and indeed to this day is impressive and an example to us all."

83-year-old Mr Dix was thanked for setting the process in motion that paved the way for a long-term friendship between Germans and Brits.

He was mayor of Tamworth in 1980, when Tamworth Twinning Association was first formed.

As well as being integral in the twinning, he was also particularly keen to care for the Cannock Chase Military Cemetery.

The cemetery houses the graves of nearly 5,000 fallen soldiers – most of them from Germany and Austria – after the two world wards.

The graves form the main memorial for fallen German soldiers in the UK, and they are maintained by the Bremen branch of the German War Graves Commission.

Mr Dix helped to arrange visits for young people from Bremen to come to Staffordshire to tend the graves alongside British youngsters.

The German Embassy spokesperson said it is largely thanks to his work that the cemetery is today a place of peace, friendship and international understanding.

The award Mr Dix received is said to be the German equivalent of OBE, and is awarded for special achievements relating to politics, the economy, culture and intellect.

Mr Dix said: "I feel really honoured in being awarded the Cross of Merit by the German government.”

"It really was an experience and an honour."

"It was a great honour to be recognised by a country we used to be enemies with, to recognise peace and reconciliation."

Speaking about his German counterparts, Terry said: "It seems as though we’ve been friends forever.

"I ring Bad Laasphe at least once a month to talk to our friends there."

Over the years, the two countries have even exchanged male voice choirs, and football teams.

Mr Dix described it as a ‘joint effort’ to bring people together.

By Local Democracy Reporter Richard Price

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