Spirit of friendship renewed
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