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Norfolk builds links to Norway

Norfolk's business, educational and cultural links with the Trondelag region of Norway have been strengthened by a Norwegian delegation's visit to Norwich.

Norfolk's business, educational and cultural links with the Trondelag region of Norway have been strengthened by a Norwegian delegation's visit to Norwich.

The four-day fact-finding visit by eight officials aims to build on the links between Norfolk and the region which includes the city of Trondheim.

This week's visit coincided with performances by the Nidaros Cathedral Girls' Choir, from Trondheim, at Norwich Cathedral on Sunday and Monday as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

The Norwegian ambassador to London, Tarald Brautaset, joined in some of the events, part of a growing exchange of ideas and cooperation emerging between the two regions.

Norfolk has been developing links with South Trondelag since 1996 and now the partnership has been widened to include the neighbouring district of North Trondelag.

Jo Middleton, Norfolk's corporate European manager, said: "This visit has deepened the relationship between Norfolk and South Trondelag, which exists on many levels, such as art, education, health, life sciences, and food and agriculture.

"It is gratifying that their neighbour, North Trondelag, has seen the value of these links and now seeks to play its own role in the partnership. We will also seek to make the most of contacts that both of our countries have in Eastern Europe to exploit any mutually beneficial opportunities."

For part of the visit, the delegation divided into two - for those with a special interest in food and agriculture and those interested in education.

The former visited Norwich Research Park, the Institute of Food Research, the John Innes Centre and Easton College.

Possible student exchanges between Easton and a college in Norway were discussed.

The education group visited Norwich School of Art & Design, which regularly recruits students from Trondheim, and discussions with Norfolk officials involved in adult education, student placements, vocational training and the Connexions advice service for teenagers.

Other events included a visit to the Notre Dame High School, a discussion of Norfolk's Shaping the Future economic initiative and an update on the EU-funded Liveable Cities project.

Also discussed was the idea of a joint celebration in 2005 of Norway's centenary of independence from Sweden.

It would build on a long-standing link between Norfolk and Norway. The first queen of independent Norway was Queen Maud, one of Edward VII's daughters. She and her husband, King Haakon VII, lived at Sandringham before taking up the throne. Their son, who became King Olav V of Norway, was christened at Sandringam.

Milian Myraunet, chief executive of South Trondelag County Council, said: "We have been very warmly received and this has been a very successful visit: we have signed a three-way agreement between North and South Trondelag and Norfolk to work together on education issues and have identified some areas for follow-up with the Institute of Food Research, Easton Agricultural College and Norwich School of Art & Design."