Oxford is to be ‘twinned’ with the Island of Sodor – the home of Thomas the Tank Engine – having been recognised as the UK’s friendliest city when it topped the newly created Thomas & Friends Friendship Index earlier this month.
Launched to mark International Friendship Day today (July 30th), the Thomas & Friends Friendship Index is the culmination of an in-depth study of 3,000 adults across the nations, to rank towns and cities according to the friendliness of their residents.
The study asked questions around kindness, encouragement, and looking after others. Wrexham was narrowly pipped to the top spot by the Oxfordshire city, while Aberdeen and Gloucester also scored highly to take the third and fourth positions.
Having taken the first place on the Index, Oxford will now house a new sign post, twinning the city with the Island of Sodor – a pivotal setting for the stories about Thomas the Tank Engine, all of which are rooted in friendship and teamwork over the past 75 years.
The twinning sign was unveiled during a special ceremony held at Oxford train station attended by Sir Topham Hatt from the show, and Councillor Mark Lygo, Lord Mayor of Oxford.
To help it land the top spot, Oxford scored consistently high across all categories including most likely place for a friend to put in a good word to get you a job and giving others advice. Findings also show that Aberystwyth and Wrexham are home to those who will go out of their way for others, with locals scoring highest for such behaviour.
North Wales was also the place to be if you’re looking for a compliment, with 55 per cent frequently handing out praise.
Residents of Belfast were most committed to travelling the furthest to helping a friend in need, willing to travel over 61 miles to help with a flat tyre – eight miles further than the average. While the Friendship Index also revealed those from Aberdeen are the most likely to step in to help their friends avoid an embarrassing situation.
Claudia Caron, UK marketing manager for Thomas & Friends, said: “The gift of friendship is truly wonderful and something we have proudly celebrated in Thomas & Friends for over 75 years, so we would like to offer a huge congratulations to Oxford for being the friendliest city in our very first Thomas & Friends Friendship Index.
“We are delighted to officially twin the city with the Island of Sodor, home of Thomas the Tank engine, in recognition of its incredible friendly status.”
The Friendship Index research has been carried out globally and has today also named friendliest cities of Australia (Sydney), New Zealand (Auckland), Italy (Naples), Greece (Irakleion), Turkey (Izmir) and Poland (Kielce). Oxford joins these six other friendliest places to have topped the Thomas & Friends Friendship Index from around the world, to be given the honour of being twinned with the Island of Sodor.
Councillor Mark Lygo, Lord Mayor of Oxford, said: “It’s great news that Oxford has been voted the friendliest city in the UK and I want to thank Thomas & Friends for confirming something that I think our residents have known for a long time.
“Oxford is made up from many diverse communities all of which have benefitted from and added to the city’s long traditions of friendliness and inclusivity, which have proved so important, especially over the last 18 months. Indeed, Oxford has friends all over the world and we are proud of our international links, including twinning with Bonn, Grenoble, Leiden, Padua, Wroclaw, Perm, León, and Ramallah.
“Now, as we come out of lockdown, I want to encourage visitors to come and visit our vibrant, friendly city and experience all that it has to offer. A warm welcome awaits you.”
THE UK’S MOST FRIENDLY CITIES ACCORDING TO THE FRIENDSHIP INDEX
1. Oxford – 21.8
2. Wrexham – 21.5
3. Gloucester – 20.8
4. Aberdeen – 20.7
5. Worcester – 20.5
6. Aberystwyth – 20.4
7. Portsmouth – 19.7
8. London – 18.8
9. Coventry – 18.5
10. Swansea – 18.3
11. Brighton and Hove – 17.9
12. Edinburgh – 17.2
13. Belfast – 16.7
14. Manchester – 16.6
15. Wolverhampton – 16.5
16. Cardiff – 16.3
17. Southampton – 15.9
18. Sheffield – 15.9
19. Plymouth – 15.8
20. Bristol – 15.5