Spirit of friend­ship re­newed

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Sounds Good - by Mike Ben­nett mben­nett@thek­m­group.co.uk

THE fu­ture of a united Europe may still be in the hands of politi­cians, but there are no fears about the warmth of in­ter­na­tional friend­ship be­tween the twin towns of Ash­ford, Fougeres in France and Bad Mun­stereifel in Ger­many.

That was proved be­yond doubt when civic del­e­ga­tions gath­ered in Fougeres, Brit­tany, for the tra­di­tional an­nual meet­ing to de­velop and ex­change ideas on how links be­tween cit­i­zens can ex­pand and con­tinue to flour­ish.

The Ash­ford del­e­ga­tion led by deputy mayor Cllr John Hol­land and Ash­ford Twin­ning As­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers, and the Ger­mans by mayor Alexan­der But­tner, en­joyed a long week­end pro­gramme of events and vis­its or­gan­ised by new French mayor Louis Feu­vrier.

To­gether the united na­tions of guests toured the in­dus­trial ar­eas of the old town and saw the con­ver­sion of a re­dun­dant shoe fac­tory into a com­mu­nity cen­tre for sports and so­cial club use.

Fol­low­ing a tra­di­tional farm­house lunch they toured a cheese-mak­ing fac­tory and spent time with host fam­i­lies vis­it­ing places of in­ter­est.

Wel­com­ing vis­i­tors, mayor Feu­vrier spoke of the es­sen­tial role of the twin­ning as­so­ci­a­tions.

He said: “A united Europe can only be built by its cit­i­zens shar­ing projects and com­mon am­bi­tions, by im­prov­ing our knowl­edge of each other. We must ex­plore new ideas and new ex­pe­ri­ences to con­tinue our great hu­man ad­ven­ture united in peace and sol­i­dar­ity.”

Cllr Hol­land ex­plained that the coun­cil was still com­mit­ted to the twin­ning, al­though it has passed re­spon­si­bil­ity for or­gan­i­sa­tion to Ash­ford Twin­ning As­so­ci­a­tion.

He in­tro­duced Cllr William Howard as Ash­ford’s twin­ning cham­pion, ap­pointed to en­cour­age younger peo­ple to get in­volved in the links.

He an­nounced that next au­tumn when the civic gath­er­ing comes to Ash­ford, the theme will be trans­port. It will in­clude the open­ing of a new road named in hon­our of Jac­ques Faucheux who was the French town mayor for decades and a lead­ing fig­ure in the friend­ship links.

Mu­si­cal en­ter­tain­ment from an ac­cor­dion player

Pic­tures Sue Chap­man

Young del­e­gates danc­ing with in­ter­na­tional friends

The trio of may­ors unite in friend­ship

Del­e­gates en­joy­ing lunch in Bille

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