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West Hampstead tweets and greets with special online gathering

PUBLISHED: 15:17 27 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:06 07 September 2010

DESPITE the summer drizzle two dozen friendly near-strangers gathered on Hampstead Heath for the fourth West Hampstead Tweet-up on Saturday. Known locally as a Whampgather, the meeting was the fourth of its kind organised, publicised and discussed entir

DESPITE the summer drizzle two dozen friendly near-strangers gathered on Hampstead Heath for the fourth West Hampstead 'Tweet-up' on Saturday.

Known locally as a Whampgather, the meeting was the fourth of its kind organised, publicised and discussed entirely on the social networking site Twitter. Jonathan Turton, a prolific tweeter who runs the Twitter handle @whampstead, organised the first gathering last year as a way for local tweeters to meet in the flesh.

He said: "One of the main aims was to build a real community, not just a virtual one. Inevitably the weather and the time of year meant this one wasn't quite as impressive, but over the course of the afternoon and evening, 26 people ensured that Whampgather IV was a success."

The intrepid group was international, with representatives from the US, Canada, Ireland, Denmark and Malta alongside a few bona fide born-and-bred locals. The youngest attendee was three-month-old Thomas who accompanied his parents Brad and Alison Martin.

Mr Turton continued: "It's great for people who are new to the area to have an easy way of meeting locals - it helps London feel less like one enormous city and more like the clichéd collection of villages so loved by guidebooks but not always that visible to the first-time visitor."

Cesar Canizales moved to West Hampstead with his wife Elizabeth from Washington DC in 2009 and knew few English people in the local area. He said: "The tweet-up is a great idea to meet some local people. Twitter is great for making initial contacts, but ultimately you need actual human contact."

Thom Hoffman, a regular attendee and a West Hampstead local said: "It demonstrates that Twitter is not there to isolate people at home - it can have a genuine role in creating a sense of community.

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