Hebden Royd and St Pol-sur-Ternoise celebrate 45 years of twinning

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It was a happy moment when our two minibuses drew into the square by the St Pol-sur-Ternoise Mairie on Thursday the 9th of May to a warm welcome from friends old and new.

After a welcome drink our host families took us to their homes for a quiet evening and a good night’s sleep. Our Mayor Bernice Hayes spoke for all of us when she described our visit on the Saturday to Siracourt and Croisette with French and German friends as “sobering yet fascinating”. The two villages were chosen by the German army in the 2nd World War to be among the many sites for the assembly and proposed launch of V1 and V2 Flying Bombs.

Later in the day we all gathered at the Monument to the Dead and the memorial to the unknown British soldier in the heart of St Pol for Bernice and Maire Danielle Vasseur to lay wreaths at the monument. At the Salles de Fetes in the evening brief speeches opened the event. Maire Vasseur looked back over the the 45 years with the thought that "conviviality and solidarity" continued to characterise our relationship. Gaelle Holynski. President of the St Pol twinning association touched all our hearts with her tribute to our long-term member Brian Collins who died very recently. She described him as her "Twinning Grandfather". President of the Hebden Bridge Twinning Society David McKay noted the importance of cherishing our European connections - but that most of all "we value the very personal social connections made by staying en famille".

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This was followed by what Mayor Hayes described as "A joyous evening of eating, music and dancing!". On Saturday in complete contrast, we visited the charming old town of Cassel in Flanders, with its fascinating museum and delightful walk up the hill above the town with its famous windmill. On our return we relaxed and ate with our host families, before departing on the Sunday morning.

During the meeting we discussed our future programme with our French and German friends, in particular their visits to us next year!

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