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Friendship Force well-travelled

Des and Val Ireland and Red at their Uki home.
Des and Val Ireland and Red at their Uki home. Blainey Woodham

AS Lucky Starr sang in his immensely popular song from 1962, "I've Been Everywhere", members of the Tweed Valley Friendship Force chapter have been to a multitude of places.

Just like Lucky's hitch-hiking swaggie who bored a truck driver senseless with a long-winded and rhyming account of where he'd been around the country.

Name a place on the four corners of the globe and one or more members of the TVFF have been there - the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Russia, Britain, Africa - "everywhere, man!".

And since its formation in 1984, the 52-strong membership has also hosted foreign Friendship Force members in reciprocal visits to the Tweed.

Late last month the latest group of overseas visitors, 13 members of the Brussels-Pajot chapter, were given a sumptuous farewell luncheon after spending a week sampling the delights of the Tweed and the hospitality of their host families.

The lunch venue was Des and Val Ireland's home, sitting high atop a hill at Uki offering stunning views of spectacular Mt Warning.

The Irelands were among the founding members of the TVFF chapter in 1984 and describe their experience as "enlightening and thoroughly enjoyable".

"Our group has catered for visitors on 25 occasions and there have been 21 outgoing exchanges with our members travelling to such diverse places as Azerbaijan, Chile, Costa Rica, China, Thailand, Russia and Tanzania," Des Ireland said.

Trip highlights for the Irelands - the pair have fully embraced the Friendship Force culture by becoming ardent participants- include a visit to Moscow where they watched a performance of the Moscow Ballet and visited the amazing Russian War Memorial and the incredible Machu Picchu Incan ruins in Peru.

"There is a huge domed ceiling at the Moscow war memorial. There is supposedly a small star for every Russian killed in both world wars - millions and millions of them," Mr Ireland said.

"It was like looking into the heavens - a truly astounding experience."

For any information about TVFF, contact Helen or Jim Larkin on 02 5524 2565.

Topics:  friendship force, travel


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