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Twinning Memories

Tony Lark

Some of the memories of Tony Lark, recent Chairman of Neung Twinning Committee,
on the occasion of our 25th anniversary in 2009

25th Anniversary Cake

27 years ago, when Monique and I first had the idea to twin Neung with an English village, we really didn’t know how the project would be received.  We just wanted to do something positive for our community and do our little bit in constructing Europe.

Here in Neung, the town council (which included our current mayor, Michel Legourd) was most enthusiastic and said they had already debated the idea and had arrived at a positive decision - they had put a few feelers out to organisations in our region, but had no really clear idea what they wanted.

To decide where in UK to make contact, it was obvious to us that we had to steer clear of London and that the land to the East or North would be as flat as our Sologne, so we looked Westwards for somewhere different. A very kind letter was received from Ross and Cromarty but we decided to stick with Somerset!

BUT we first had to find a village who wouldn’t mind getting involved in this crazy idea! We wrote to Williton because it seemed a normal, lively village, not too near the tourist hotspots. As a reply, Williton sent us a very warm invitation to come and chat.

Thus it was that in the Easter Holidays in 1982, Monique and I drove to Williton for the first time. We met Sue and Charlie Knight and were immediately relieved to see that we were dealing with real local people who loved their village as much as we did ours.

Williton sign in Neung

We came back to Neung firmly decided to recommend twinning with Williton. Our Town Council, in the meantime, had received official notification from the French National Town Twinning people that our English twin had been selected: a village to the east of Nottingham – OH NO!

Quick action was in order and yours truly got himself invited to the next council meeting to sell Williton to them. It wasn’t too difficult after such a positive start with Sue and Charlie.

The Council decided that the next step would be a visit to Williton by the then Mayor, Charles Quenet and Deputy Mayors Lucien Petat, Dr Claude Leguillou & Robert Prince and about half the other Councillors.

In the few months after our first meeting, Sue had rounded up a great team to start off the Williton association and it was they who organised that first official visit. A meeting was held with the Parish Council where we met Mary Fisher, the then Chairperson and were blown over by her excellent French and knowledge of our culture. We had a wonderful time and laughed a lot. We discovered English beer, skittles and learned that food in England was lovely!

A subsequent visit to Neung by a similar small party from Williton, sealed the decision to go ahead and in 1984 a large group of British and French adults and youngsters were gathered together in the sun in front of the Neung Town Hall to say “I do”. The Twinning was on its way.

Meal at La Salle des FetesBoth Mr Quenet and Monique’s father had been prisoners of war in Germany and had very strong views on building a new Europe to keep the peace. For them, it went without saying that the youngsters of Neung should know Britain and Germany well and speak their languages. Many other people who lived through those terrible years encouraged us similarly. For 25 years we’ve kept faith with that vision; we’ve enabled hundreds of youngsters and their families to cross frontiers, both physical and mental. Thanks to your unfailing help, they’ve always come back happy and ready to do it again!

Nowadays, new challenges are before us: to create new sorts of jobs in our communities; to leave a cleaner, more viable place for or children to inherit, to name but two. More than ever, our youngsters need to be aware of their world and able to move around freely in today’s Europe. We are confident that the Williton-Neung Partnership will continue to play an active part in helping to widen people’s horizons.

On behalf of the Neung Committee – Many, many thanks to all the Williton twinning members, past and present for your work and commitment over all these years. Long may our friendship last!

The whole group (French and English) outside Chateau de Villesavin

Williton
&
Neung-sur-Beuvron
Copie de WILITON 2009 206.jpg
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