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  • Star of the street

    Meet the man behind the incredible Christmas house that sparkles with 450,000 lights – Rolf Vogt – whose house in Calle, Lower Saxony has lit up the street in the run-up to Christmas for the past 17 years.

  • €150m aid package for returning migrants launched

    Germany has pledged to spend €150 million helping migrants return home, the minister of development said in an interview published on December 9.

    The aid fund will benefit both failed asylum seekers and migrants who choose to return to their home countries.

  • Best bargains at new Thrift Shop

    The Paderborn Station Thrift Shop has reopened its doors following a relocation and refurbishment. 

    The shop was opened on Friday, December 9 by the Station Commander, Lt Col Mateer, pictured (right) with Stephanie Fender, the Thrift Shop manager, Victoria Grinsell and Vera Allen.

  • Anglo-German celebration of Christmas

    The awe-inspiring Paderborn Cathedral hosted the annual Anglo-German Carol Service on December 8. With a history spanning more than a thousand years, the breathtaking venue was the perfect location for the occasion.  

    The congregation celebrated the Nine Lessons and Carols, which originated in 1918 when Eric Milner-White, the newly appointed Dean of King’s College Cambridge, planned the service after his experience as an Army chaplain convinced him that the Church of England needed more imaginative worship.

  • Christmas - A time for taking

    As well as a time for giving, Christmas can also be a time for taking. 

    Thieves know that there are many easy targets as people are distracted by the festivities and give little thought to their safety or that of their property. 

    Here is a list of some of the simple things that you can do to keep safe during the festive season – nothing spoils the spirit of Christmas faster than being a victim of crime. 

  • More festive food tips from the FSA Freezer Fairy

    With the big day just days away, here are some handy hints from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on how to prepare the Christmas turkey and reduce food waste from leftovers.

    Preparing your turkey

    Cooking in advance: Cooking your turkey in advance could save you getting stressed out on the day and give you more time with your family and friends. Once your turkey is cooked and cooled, slice and then batch it into portions to store in the freezer. You can then take out what you need when you need it. Just remember that meat previously cooked and frozen should only be reheated once.

  • Avoid snowballing costs

    Make sure you have your winter sports insurance cover

    Despite the lack of snow in BFG it is the time of year where many of us eagerly scan our weather apps for snow conditions as our winter holiday approaches. 

    While travelling outside of Germany on a private journey BFG Health Service is not responsible for your medical care.

    So, as you plan your break and compare resorts, flights et cetera you should not neglect the most important factor – your winter sports insurance cover.

  • Festive forest

    In the small town of Rinteln, one couple has pulled out all the stops when it comes to their Christmas decorations.

    From the outside, Thomas and Susanne Jeromine’s house does not look out of the ordinary, with only a few modest decorations, but inside, it’s packed to the rafters with Christmas trees – 110 in all – crammed into the 105m2 of space.

  • ‘Oil’ be home for Christmas

    After an almighty effort, a red squirrel was freed from a manhole cover after its hefty hips got it into a spot of bother.

    Animal rescue services in München were called to the scene last week by passers-by who found the little rodent stuck tight and unable to escape.

    Rescuers first greased the little fella up with olive oil, but that failed to do the trick, with his hips bulging out underneath the hole.

  • Merkel re-elected as CDU party leader

    Chancellor Angela Merkel was re-elected as leader of the CDU at the party conference on December 6, meaning she will be their chancellor candidate at next year’s election.

    Merkel received 89.5 per cent of the votes from the 1,000 delegates who were present at the conference in Essen. The vote secures her a further two years as leader of the party.

  • Wife burned to death by husband

    A 41-year-old man has been detained on suspicion of murder, after he is believed to have set fire to his wife on a street in Kiel last week.

    “We think it’s clear in this case that malevolence and brutality, both requisites for a murder charge, exist,” state prosecutor Axel Bieler said.

  • Germany News in Brief - December 15, 2016

    10 times more police for NYE

    KÖLN – City officials plan to have more than 10 times the number of officers than they did last year on patrol for this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration, hoping to prevent the spate of crimes committed last year.

    Some 1,500 officers will be deployed as well as 600 public order officers and “significantly more” private security workers, a city spokeswoman said.

    After more than 1,000 women reported being robbed or sexually assaulted or both last year, Köln police came under fire for their handling of the events, accused of covering up the refugee background of attackers as well as the details of the attacks and not providing sufficient security.

    This year the main area where the assaults occurred – between the cathedral and the railway station – will have extra security. The area around the cathedral will be blocked off with control points, and no fireworks will be allowed within the area.

    The area around the railway station will have more video surveillance and in the station, trains will be rescheduled to reduce the number of people having to change platforms so oftens.

    Police said they will also be monitoring social media like Twitter and Facebook for topics related to New Year’s Eve.

  • Berlin Christmas market attack - December 19

    Information and advice for British nationals travelling and living in Europe from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

    A lorry was driven into a crowd at a Christmas market in central Berlin on December 19, killing 12 people and injuring 48 others. The German authorities are investigating this as a likely terrorist attack. You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities. The German police have issued a contact number +49 30 540 23 111 for people concerned, or +49 30 540 24 111 for people who may have relevant information.

  • A Christmas message for Defence personnel across the globe

    The Defence Secretary, Chief of Defence Staff and Permanent Secretary have written to all Defence personnel

    2016 will be remembered as a momentous year of political change in many countries including our own, not least because of the decision of the British people to leave the European Union.

    The Armed Forces are very busy on 28 operations in 25 countries. Over 5,000 are deployed, but that figure does not include those who have recently returned or are preparing to deploy.

    In addition to our standing tasks of nuclear deterrence, maritime security, air defence and counter terrorism support, we are involved in combat operations against Daesh with the Royal Air Force operating at the highest tempo in 25 years.

    The Royal Navy remains committed across the globe including very active operations to tackle the migrant crisis and our Army is busy developing the capability and capacity of the Iraqi Forces, sustaining NATO operations in Afghanistan and preparing to deploy to Estonia in support of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence.

  • Jobs in Germany

    SOME 72 Service-leavers and veterans went to the Company Open Day at the Resettlement Centre in Sennelager on November 30 where M&E Global were giving information about 160 vacancies in Germany.

    The US Army is opening the Dülmen site which was previously run by the British; M&E Global are contracted to employ the staff and more than 23 different roles will be available. All the jobs will be advertised through the CTP website.

    Managing Director M&E Global Resources, Gordon Woodward, said he was very pleased with the turnout.  He was accompanied by Jeanette Davies, Recruiting Manager, and Stephen Piper Finance Manager.

    Service-leavers came from all over BFG, joined by veterans who currently work for organisations that will cease to exist in BFG when drawdown is complete.  Some travelled from Dülmen itself where, until recently, they had been employed by the British.

  • Pay It Forward

    KEEN to support the local community Brig Ian Bell, Commander British Forces Germany, recently presented a cheque to the Kinderklinik (Clinic for Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine) at the Gillead Hospital, thanking them for the support they provide to the BFG community.

    The cheque, which totalled €1,042, was raised through the annual Commander BFG’s Charity Golf Tournament held in July. Brig Ian Bell presented the cheque to Professor Dr Eckard Hamelmann, Head of the Kinderklinik, who was accompanied by Frau Jutta Wilkinson, International Markets Manager.  

  • Wise Words

    Vietnam veteran and Zen Buddhist monk Claude Anshin Thomas will be visiting Bielefeld in early December to give a public talk and to hold a meditation retreat.

    Being American, he is a fluent English speaker, and both events will be held in English with German translations.

    He has visited Church House and HQ BFG twice before where he met Father Ian Stevenson.

    Claude Anshin Thomas is welcoming and encourages soldiers and their families to come along to the public events. 

  • 'Tis The Season To..... Make Cake!

    Overall winner Mrs Pyne with her Christmas cake creationThe annual Westfalen Garrison Christmas Cake Competition is back and it is bigger than ever before. 

    Over 70 competitors came together to show off their culinary skills, have fun, win prizes and ultimately donate outstanding cakes to local charities and agencies.

    The event took place on Tuesday December 6 in the NATO Officers’ Mess on Normandy Barracks. 

  • Sharp Sarah Saves Baby's Life

    Cpl Sarah Clarkson, née Pratt, with her certificate.  Photo by Dom King,  Army Press Office (G)

    IN A small ceremony last week in front of her peers and colleagues, Cpl Sarah Clarkson, who serves with 110 Provost Company, 1st Regiment Royal Military Police, was presented with a Certificate of Meritorious Service for her prompt actions in saving a young child.

    The morning of October 20 last year had started as any other for Sarah and her daughter but the calm start to the day was broken abruptly when Sarah heard loud screaming coming from outside her house in Gütersloh. 

    Going outside to see what was happening she discovered her next-door neighbour in a state of panic and holding her three-month-old son.

  • He's Behind You

    MORE than 300 children from Attenborough and Bishopspark Schools came to the sell-out Dick Whittington show in Paderborn to cheer along the CSE, in their 70th year of supporting the military.  

    The Kaleidoscope cinema came alive, with everyone getting involved in the performance. 

    The cast was excellent at encouraging audience participation and the amount of fun was clearly apparent from all the smiling faces.

  • A Fayre to Remember

    Children could visit Santa at the Fayre

    Mansergh Barracks became the hub of Christmas festivities on December 5, when Home-Start Gütersloh organised a wonderful Christmas Fayre full of activities for all the family. 

    The cold weather didn’t stop the enthusiasm as people walked around the festive stalls while listening to the peaceful tones of the Military Wives Choir. 

    The children could create their own decorations, dance at the disco and then also go and visit Santa in the grotto. 

    One parent said: “Thank you to Home-Start for organising such a fun event. My kids have absolutely loved it and they enjoyed dancing to all of the Christmas songs.”

  • Fun of the Fayre

    SSAFA had lots of help to raise money for the charityPaderborn Station held its Christmas Fayre at the NAAFI Family Store last Thursday.  

    The festive cheer was contagious as everyone took advantage of the great gifts up for sale on many of the stalls, with the Military Wives Choir providing the perfect musical accompaniment. 

    Hungry shoppers filled their boots with hot baps and bratwurst cooked up by the NAAFI chefs.

    Santa took time out from his busy schedule to make a special appearance and speak to the children in his grotto, but for those who didn’t see him there is still time to write to him at the North Pole.  

    With thanks to Claire Cornwell, Community Link Officer Paderborn Station, Pete Wyatt and the NAAFI team for a brilliant evening.


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  • Leaving children at home alone

    As a parent, caring for your child is your number one priority. But sometimes you might have to spend time away from your child, whether it’s to go to work, go out for the evening or just to nip out to the shops.

    There’s no legally set age at which it’s okay to leave your child at home alone. It depends on whether yours is mature enough to cope in an emergency and feels happy about being left alone. Children mature at different ages and every child is an individual.

    Your children rely on you to protect them and you are responsible for making sure that they are happy and well looked after in your absence.

  • The Sound of Christmas

    On Sunday evening, Pastor Armin Piepenbrink-Rademacher welcomed another full congregation to the 49th annual Anglo German Carol Service in the beautiful and serene Altstädter Nicolaikirche in centre Bielefeld. 

    He was joined in worship by the Senior Catholic Military Padre in Germany, Father Ian Stevenson and welcomed Brigadier Ian Bell, Comd BFG, and senior civic and civilian dignitaries to the picturesque Altstadt of the city of Bielefeld. 

    This uniquely contemporary service was a collaboration of both German and British carol traditions that, combined with the impressive church set a moving spiritual and festive scene. 

    With support from Bielefeld Military Wives Choir and Bielefeld School Choir, one voice of unity rang out throughout Bielefeld’s German and British communities on this cold but heart-warming and beautiful night.

  • It’s snow joke... Christmas is coming!

    Bielefeld Station’s children’s Christmas parties run by Welfare Team prove a huge success

    The Bielefeld Station Welfare Team welcomed 100 excited children to the annual Christmas parties on November 26. 

    On arrival the children were greeted by a delicious spread of hot food provided by the NAAFI at Catterick Barracks.

    Paul and Dominic from Britannia Entertainment kept the children amused and entertained with party games and music.

  • Community cheer at Christmas

    The Bielefeld Community Support team ran their annual Bielefeld Christmas Fair in Bob’s Den on Catterick Barracks on November 27. 

    The venue was festive and welcoming to the many customers that attended with many Christmas crafts and items available.

  • Gunner Girls Christmas Party

  • 1,000 sprinting Santas

    From Lapland to lap times: young and old lookalike Santas shed the pounds at the Michendorf Nikolaus Run on December 4The town of Michendorf in Brandenburg kicked off its 8th Saint Nicholas run at the weekend, attracting nearly 1,000 enthusiastic Santa impersonators.

    The participants aged between two and 80 gathered in the mist on Sunday morning (December 4) for Michendorf’s eighth annual pre-Christmas Nikolauslauf (Nicholas run).

  • Planned German road toll agreed

    The European Commission and the German government agreed to settle differences over Germany’s plan to introduce a highway toll for cars after months of dispute, EU officials said on December 1.

    Last year the German parliament approved a road charging system that would have hit only foreign drivers, but the plan was kept on hold after the EU Commission complained it would have been discriminatory and so against EU rules.

  • Nazi POW leaves estate to ‘kind’ Scottish village

    A former Nazi prisoner of war has left his entire estate in his will to a small village in Scotland to show his appreciation for the kindness he received there during his captivity.

    Heinrich Steinmeyer, a Waffen SS soldier during the Second World War, was captured in France and held in the Cultybraggan POW camp near Comrie in the Scottish Highlands, where the 19-year-old received an unexpectedly warm welcome.

    The acts of kindness began when local children reportedly befriended him through the fence and smuggled him out of the camp to watch a film at a nearby cinema.

  • Suspected Islamist who worked for domestic spy agency arrested

    A German citizen employed by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has been arrested on accusations that he made Islamist declarations on the Internet and revealed internal agency material, the agency said last week.

    A spokesman for the the Bundesverfassungsschutz (BfV) declined to provide details on the man’s position at the agency or say when he joined. He also declined to comment on a report in Die Welt newspaper that the 51-year-old had planned to explode a bomb at the agency’s central office in Köln.

    “There is no evidence to date that there is a concrete danger to the security of the BfV or its employees.”

  • Germany News in Brief - December 8, 2016

    Afghan’s arrest reignites debate

    BERLIN – The government pleaded for calm on Monday after the arrest of a teenage Afghan asylum seeker for the alleged rape and murder of a German student triggered fresh criticism of the country’s liberal refugee policy.

    The anti-migrant AfD party blamed the crime on the “uncontrolled” influx of foreigners, while the head of a police union warned of the “dangers that always go along with massive immigration”.

    But Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the murder of the 19-year-old medical student should not be used to whip up hatred against all refugees.

    “Such horrible murders already happened before the first Afghan or Syrian refugee arrived here,” Gabriel told the Bild newspaper. 

    “We will not allow incitement after such violent crimes, no matter who commits them.”

    The 17-year-old suspect, who arrived in Germany in 2015 as an unaccompanied minor, was arrested in Freiburg on Friday after his DNA was found at the crime scene and he was identified on CCTV.

    The victim was found dead on a river bank on October 16. An autopsy found that she had drowned.

  • Reduce food waste with the FSA Freezer Fairy this Christmas

    In the run-up to Christmas follow our Freezer Fairy’s tips on how to prepare your festive food in advance and reduce food waste from leftovers
    by making the most of your freezer.

    Plan your Christmas meals and and reduce waste with these tipsThese useful tips will help you plan your meals and work out what and when to cook, freeze and defrost to help you have a less stressful and wasteful Christmas.

  • Entitlement to health cover for visiting relatives

    EHICWith Christmas just around the corner, many families within BFG will be welcoming visitors into their homes for the Christmas holidays.

    The information given here is a reminder of the health care entitlement for visiting relatives.

    Does my visitor need travel/medical insurance?

    All visitors, regardless of nationality, need to take out travel and medical insurance to cover the duration of their visit. It is also important that all visitors carry enough prescription medication with them.


  • A Christmas Carol

  • Santa needs YOU!

  • Bumps to Babies/Little Picassos

    Please be aware the Home-Start Bumps to Babies and Little Picasso clubs have now closed until the New Year.

    Home-Start will be closed for Christmas from Friday, December 9 until Monday, January 2. 

    The organiser can still be contacted until Friday, December 16.

  • Punchlines Christmas edition – out now!

    Remember to pick up your Christmas edition of Punchlines – out now!

  • Christmas at Bielefeld Library

  • Windsor apologises to Coburg

    The truck transporting the festive fir bound for Windsor – where a surprise awaitedThe Royal Borough of Windsor has said sorry to German officials after an over-zealous traffic warden fined delegates delivering a Christmas tree to the Queen.

    Council bosses have had their apology accepted after parking penalties were wrongly issued to vehicles displaying the slogans ‘Christmas tree for the Queen’.

    The warden issued the fines as the representatives from Coburg, in Franconia, were putting the final touches to a 40ft Christmas tree gift to the Queen before its official unveiling in Windsor town centre.

    The Royal Borough immediately cancelled the penalty notice and another that was issued to a Mini car with the same slogan parked nearby.

    A council spokesman said: “The delegation was very understanding and they have accepted our apologies.”

    Paul Roach, the town manager, described the incident as “unfortunate”, adding: “I have spoken to colleagues in Germany and they are aware of the circumstances and that the guys were just doing their job.”

  • New HIVE winter activities guide

    The HIVE has published its new, up-to-date guide to winter activities in Germany.

    In it you will find places of interest to visit, entertainment and sporting opportunities for all ages throughout the season.

    Pick up a copy at your local HIVE and make the most of what Germany has to offer.

  • Revised opening hours for dispensaries in BFG

    Below are the revised opening hours for dispensaries in BFG.

  • Lonely this Christmas...

  • Don't drive drowsy

  • What to keep in your medicine cabinet for the holidays

    Christmas holidays are fast approaching so do not forget to refresh your medicine cabinet in preparation for the break.

    You may wish to consider the following list of useful items to keep at home. All items are fairly inexpensive and worth stocking in readiness for minor illnesses.

  • Paderborn Utd get in the Christmas spirit

    Paderborn United have been very busy in the lead up to Christmas with the arrival of their Taunton School friends, Declan Rogers and Ian Etchells, as well as taking part in the St Nikolaus tournament.

    Declan and Ian offered a new supply of tracksuits to the new members of the club as well as watching some of the Paderborn United team in action.

    The C-Jugend side faced local side SV Sande in a nailbiting league match, which resulted in a 3-3 draw.

  • A new tradition

    Football players from both the British Army and Bundeswehr (German Army) met on the football pitch this week for the, now annual, Game of Truce.

    Both sides showed skill and good techniqueUnlike the first Game of Truce, which took place in Sennelager last year, the 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade were unable to produce a similar result, losing to their German counterparts 3-2.

  • Working Together

    Reserve battalion, 7 MI exercise in Germany alongside their regular counterparts of 4 MI BnReservists from 7 Military Intelligence Battalion recently travelled to Sennelager for their annual camp.

     There they spent invaluable time training with their paired regular battalion - 4 Military Intelligence. 

    For the 52 soldiers who travelled from the United Kingdom, the camp provided them with the opportunity to fine-tune their intellectual skills in analysing and processing intelligence material, in both battle group and formation headquarters scenarios, alongside their regular counterparts.

  • How flat-tering!

    Year 3 Haig School pupil Esther, eight, with her Flat Stanley and one of the photographs sent by the White HouseA plucky eight-year-old pupil from Haig School in Gütersloh who wrote a letter to President Obama as part of a school project, has spoken of her delight at receiving a speedy reply.

    Esther, who was participating in the Flat Stanley literacy project which sees pupils post a cut-out ‘visitor’ and a journal to a person of their choosing, decided that the White House, located some 6,425km away in Washington DC, was the perfect destination.

    When asked what made her think of mailing her Stanley to President Obama, Esther said: “I didn’t know who to send it to; I thought I should send it to someone I’d never spoken to, someone I didn’t know.”

    And, much to Esther’s delight, it took a little more than a month for her flat visitor to arrive back at Haig School in Gütersloh.


  • Celebration of sport

    The Army’s top sportsmen and women have had their achievements recognised at a glittering awards ceremony held in the historic Guildhall in the City of London.

    Team of the Year winners, the Army cycling teamSporting celebrities including Lizzy Yarnold, Matt Dawson, Jason Gardner, Jade Etherington, Maggie Alphonsi, and Garth Crooks turned out to present the awards which recognise the achievements of the Servicemen and women who have risen to the top in their sports.

    Representatives of every sport played in the Army were present at the awards ceremony, as well as members of sports governing bodies, supporters of Army sport and the award nominees. The ceremony was compered by Sky Sports presenter Hayley McQueen and included a performance by the renowned soprano Laura Wright.