last, Saturday the 26th May arrived, and our plans for an
open-air ceremony in the courtyard between Safeway (now
Morrison’s) Stores and the Leisure Centre were foiled by
cold, lashing rain. The tables and other gear were,
therefore, hurriedly moved to the covered-way by the Leisure
Shortly before the time for the ceremony, the public
began to arrive, and the Verwood Concert Brass started to
play incidental music; but we still had no French guests!
had previously arranged with the
police that the two coachloads of guests would be conducted
Docks through the town, and on to the A38. In fact, this
was done, but, unknown to us, H.M. Customs had searched both
coaches, and delayed their departure for two hours.
with the ferry an hour late and Customs Officers making a
thorough search of the coach, our guests finally arrived
only a few minutes before the ceremony was due to start.
With rain continuing to fall, hosts and visitors were
hastily sorted out and despatched home for a quick change
and the ceremony delayed for half an hour. Somehow we
managed the timing and were soon sheltering under the awning
outside the Leisure Centre to hear a message of welcome
given by our Chairman, Mr. Gordon Thorne.
of congratulations from H.M. the Queen was followed by
the French Mayor, Mr. Alain Levoyer, who gave the
interpreter, Mr. Paul Bourdais, a rest, by reading his
speech in English. Cllr. Harold Witt, Chairman of the Parish
Council, replied and then Mr. Robert Adley spoke in both
languages, both he and the Mayor keeping us amused with some
very witty comments.
standing l to r :- Cllr. Harold Witt (Verwood Parish Council chairman) &
Mr Robert Adley (MP for Verwood & Christchurch)
seated l to r: - Mr Gordon Thorne (chairman of Verwood Twinning
Alain Levoyer (Mayor of Champtoceaux)
Charter was then signed and Verwood Concert Brass, whose
playing had lifted everyone's spirits during the long wait,
played both National Anthems
were introduced to their hosts, returned to their homes to
change for the evening's entertainment in the Leisure
Centre. Guests were greeted with a glass of sherry and
incidental music provided by "Courtlye Musicke", a
five-piece ensemble playing medieval music on replica
medieval instruments. They continued to play throughout
dinner, and occasioned much interest and appreciation.
sat at tables for eight persons, with a long top table for
our Member of Parliament, Mr Robert Adley, M. Alain Levoyer,
Mr & Mrs Harold Witt (Council Chairman), Mr & Mrs
Gordon Thorne (Association Chairman).
the atmosphere was really festive. Members of the Flower
Club had succeeded (against their better judgement) in
making two beautiful arrangements in red, white and blue,
and these were placed on each side of the top table, behind
which the two national flags were draped.
The caterers had
placed flags and flowers on each table and the menu cards
with place names were specially produced by Mr. Leo Roberts
to be a souvenir of the evening.
the evening presents were exchanged. We gave a glass goblet,
engraved with the Twinning logo, to the French, and a
smaller one to Mr Darner for his artwork. We received two
large photographs, one of the gates to their "Old
Chateau", and one of the "Cul du Moulin" on
. These are now in the "Twinning Comer" of
the caterers had managed to keep the food hot during the
long delay and we all had healthy appetites by now and gave
it our full attention. Later on, the Mayor of Champtoceaux
was presented with a pennant beautifully embroidered by Mrs.
Pauline Barrow with the Twinning logo and also a glass
goblet etched with the same design. He returned the
compliment by giving commemorative medallions to Mr. Thorne,
Cllr. Witt and Mr. Adley and two framed pictures of
Champtoceaux to be hung in our Town Hall! No Prizes will be
given for guessing where that is. We also took this
opportunity to show our thanks to Mr. E. Darner for his
weeks of work in producing the charter, by asking Mr. Adley
to present him with a glass candlestick decorated with the
evening finished with a really lively selection of dance
music by Graham Church which pulled everyone to their feet
and had them dancing round the tables before the end. He
even managed to find a few French tunes to make the visitors
feel at home. One can only marvel at their stamina to keep
when they had started out at
in the morning and had a rough crossing.
morning was left to the hosts to take their guests to see
and after Sunday lunch we all met at the Church for a
combined service led by Reverend Anthony Roberts. We and our
visitors were entertained by a group of dancers from Lire,
"dressed in traditional costume, followed by a group of
children performing English Country Dances. Once again the
Ver wood Concert Brass were there to play for us and to
accompany the hymns. The scouts and guides added colour to
the proceedings and the Church was full for a very
we repaired to the Memorial Hall where members of the Wives
Club served an English cream tea, with scones, served by
Verwood Wives and the Brownies acting as waitresses. Butter
and jam kindly provided by Safeway. Once again tables were
gaily laid out with flags and flowers and it all looked very
welcoming. After the Sunday lunch most people kept their
intake to a minimum but that left plenty for the children.
Because the weather was still playing up, it was impossible
to dance outside so tables were cleared and chairs brought
in for a concert indoors. It started with an impromptu
recital by a few of the Champtoceaux Choral society who were
with the visitors and they gave us several songs, one of
which was English, while the French Folk Dancers changed
into their costume, which is rather intricate and takes
about an hour. Then the dancers entertained us with the
first half of their repertoire, introduced in French by
their accordionist and interpreted by Mr. Bourdais very
amusingly. The dances themselves were a good mixture of
amusement and colour and included one which used to be
danced at court in the old days. We were very interested to
hear that this is the first time that they had performed
The Breton Dancers performing
in Verwood Memorial Hall
came the moment that the
children had been waiting for - to perform English country
dances which they had been rehearsing and which they managed
to perfect in a very short time. How well they managed on
the small stage when they had been expecting to dance
outside and what a pity that more people could not have seen
it, but the hall was packed and they finished to loud
applause. Then the French dancers joined them for a repeat
of their last dance and one felt that this is what the
Twinning is all about joining together in things which we
all understand to help us solve our differences.
this, the French gave us a few more dances and then changed
back into everyday wear for their evening entertainment
which was skittles and a ploughman's supper and plenty of
laughter and conversation. I can still see their oldest
member, a farmer of 69, chuckling away as people hit or
missed the skittles, although he must have found it quite
tiring standing for so long in the crowded room. I can't
answer for what time people re- tired to bed but feel that
talking went on in their own homes long after closing time.
Les danseurs francais. (The
costumes are Breton)
Day dawned, cold and windy, but it did not deter the Lire
Dancers from giving a delightful performance in the
exhibition area. Interestingly, one "Mum", who had
seen the dancers the previous day, dressed her daughter in a
similar costume, which she had made overnight. What a grand
turn-out it was and how grateful we should be for this free
entertainment on which so many people have worked so hard.
After walking in the procession, the Folk Dancers were
kindly slotted into the arena entertainment early as they
had to change and have supper earlier than expected.
Although unused to dancing on grass, being normally on
wooden flooring, they performed a few dances in the arena
and were then whisked off to change and see a little of the
we managed to 'man' our stall, a tombola in the shape of a
peg-board with a clown painted on it by Cherry Thorne, which
had proved very popular and has been used year after
assembled at Hillside School at about 6.15 for the send-off,
to the music of the bagpipes, played by the Campbell's in
full Highland Dress, and sang Auld Lang Syne before our
visitors boarded the coach. At
they departed amidst a feeling of sadness that the visit
had been so brief, but with many new friendships made and
the promise of a return visit next Spring.
On behalf of the Verwood Twinning
Association. 1 would like to thank all the organisations and
people of the village who joined with our committee to make
what we hope was a very successful week-end for our friends
We apologise to all those who waited so
patiently on a very wet and cold Saturday evening to witness
the signing of the Charter. Tile ceremony was delayed due to
the late arrival of our French visitors who had been held up
by rough weather in the Channel, amongst other things.
Special thanks are due to Verwood Concert Brass who did an
excellent job playing for an extra half an hour with frozen
Many new friendships have been formed during the
week-end, and we hope that many more organisations and
individuals will, over the coming years, make happy and
fruitful contacts with our friends in Champtoceaux.
The Queen sends her sincere thanks to
the Committee of the Verwood Twinning Association for their
kind message of loyal greetings, sent on the occasion of the
official ceremony of twinning between Verwood and the town
. Her Majesty received this message with great pleasure and
would like to send her best wishes to both towns joining in
this ceremony. She hopes you all have an enjoyable and
Prime Minister has asked me to send her very best wishes to
Verwood and Champtoceaux on the occasion of your Twinning
Ceremony. Mrs. Thatcher believes that twinning is a splendid
way of promoting international understanding and goodwill.
communities are now linked with communities across the
world. Mrs. Thatcher's home town, Grantham, is twinned with
Sankt Augustin in
Prime Minister is sure that you will enjoy the Ceremony and
Celebration Dinner and is confident that Verwood and
Champtoceaux will long maintain entente cordiale.
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