The toilets of a town-centre car park may not be the most glamorous setting for an awards ceremony – but they proved the perfect backdrop for Bedford to receive its Toilet Twinned Town award.

The accolade comes in recognition of Bedford Park Rotary Club’s tireless fundraising and support for Toilet Twinning over several years.

The club’s President Elect Peter Roberts received the award from Toilet Twinning’s Emily Wilson – and presented it to the town’s mayor.

Five people stand in a row holding certificates and smiling at the camera in an accessible public toilet.

Photo: Bedford Park Rotary Club members Peter Roberts and Mark Willis present Bedford’s Toilet Twinned Town award to Mayor Dave Hodgson in the Changing Places toilets of the Howard Centre car park, with Emily Wilson of Toilet Twinning and other council members. 

The Rotary club’s involvement with Toilet Twinning began in 2020 when its International and Youth committees began collaborating on a fundraising project, inspired by another Rotary club.

Peter, then chairman of the International Committee, says experiencing poor sanitation overseas through his own travels motivated him personally.

‘We take for granted in this country that we can turn on a tap and get clean water for drinking and washing, and we can go to the toilet in clean and safe conditions.’

‘The fact that we could help vulnerable women and girls, as well as helping to improve sanitation, prevent disease and promote health education around the world, seemed to tick all the boxes for Rotary.’

Initially, the club raised enough to twin two toilet blocks at a local golf club in 2021. Then, after a brief fundraising hiatus during the pandemic, the club Council agreed to twin 20 local toilets – in schools, churches, businesses, public amenities and community groups – which qualified Bedford to become a Toilet Twinned Town.

‘We thought it would not only bring recognition to Bedford but also to our club, and promote the idea of Toilet Twinning on a wider platform,’ says Peter. ‘Explaining the background and principles behind Toilet Twinning was well received in the community.’

Bedford Borough Mayor Dave Hodgson says:

‘We are proud to be a part of this important cause and to be making a positive impact on the lives of people around the world.’ 

Find out more about becoming a Toilet Twinned Town.