Bury St Edmunds becomes a Toilet Twinned Town

Vicky Neale, the retiring Headteacher, receiving the Twinning Certificate on behalf of the school.

Left to right: David Mansfield (President of the Rotary Club of Bury St Edmunds), Vicky Neale (retiring headteacher of County Upper School) and Rotarian Barry Hare. Vicky is receiving the Twinning Certificate on behalf of the school. - Credit: Rotary Club of Bury St Edmunds

Those familiar with Bury St Edmunds may know it is twinned with Compiegne in France and Kevelaer in Germany, but it is now has a twinning of a different kind - toilets.

The historic Suffolk town is now officially a Toilet Twinned Town, with loos matched with toilets/latrines in different locations across Malawi in Africa thanks to a lockdown project by the Rotary Club of Bury St Edmunds.

Club members set themselves the goal of the town being registered by the Toilet Twinning charity, for which they needed 20 twinned in total - and have actually hit 50 so far.

Vicky Neale, the retiring Headteacher, for receiving the Twinning Certificate on behalf of the school.

The County Upper School toilet block twinning certificate. - Credit: Rotary Club of Bury St Edmunds

Toilets involved in this project include those in the Arc Shopping Centre, St Edmund's Catholic Church, St Benedict’s Catholic School, the Guildhall and the Theatre Royal, as well as loos in people's own homes.

By twinning a toilet with one in Malawi for £60 it pays for the basic equipment and the local people do the building, using the expertise of Toilet Twinning’s local partners.

The Arc shopping centre toilets are amongst those that have been twinned.

The Arc shopping centre toilets are amongst those that have been twinned. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown


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David Mansfield, president of the Rotary Club of Bury St Edmunds, said: "The more toilets we can twin in Bury, the more people in Malawi will have a proper place to go to the loo, and fewer people will die from preventable diseases caused by lack of sanitation."

One of the recent twinnings were toilets at County Upper School with a school toilet block in Malawi thanks to generous sponsorship by one of the Rotarians.

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Jenny Benfield, chair of the International Committee of the Rotary Club of Bury St Edmunds, added: "A number of groups in the town, as well as individuals, have got behind the project to make this possible and the rotary club is very grateful for all the support it has received."

Town Clerk Greg Luton said: "The town council are happy to support this project. Seldom are we able to make a difference for a community so far from our own. This is a great example of acting locally, to make changes in the international community.’"

The rotary club does not want to stop at 50 toilets being twinned: its next target is 100.

If you can help, email Jenny here

For more information about the Toilet Twinning charity, which works in a number of countries through local partners to improve sanitation, and thereby improve health, see here.

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