sight of 43 (or 44 if he included himself) happy residents
of the village aboard or about to board the coach to
Champtoceaux on the evening of the 11th May might well have
seemed reward enough to to Gordon Thorne, Chairman of our
Twinning Association for all his hard work and enthusiasm
since 1980 when the possibility of twinning with our French
counterpart was first thought of. We hope it was.
event was a resounding success, just as was the visit of our
French friends to us almost 12 months ago. We hope that
exchange visits individually and collectively will be
mounted from this point on so that the relationship which
has been established will grow in friendship. Here are a few
personal impressions of the visit which have been made at
Taken at the Charter
signing ceremony in Champtoceaux.
From Left to Right.:
- Gordon Thorne (Chairman of Twinning),
Alain Levoyer (Mayor of Champtoceaux),
Bill Williams (Parish Council Representative)
Claude Papin (President, French Twinning
My abiding memory is of the friendship and
hospitality extended to us collectively by the community and
the excellence of the arrangements made to ensure this would
be a memorable occasion. Not far behind, for me, come the
individual acts of friendship and hospitality which we were
privileged to receive. Also, what a pleasant surprise it was
to meet representatives of
Germany, the other twinned town of Champtoceaux. They
presented us with a plaque and some Rhein wine. The
commemorative plaque erected on the outskirts of
Champtoceaux features Niederheimbach and
If I am
to extract two other noteworthy memories from the veritable
basket of them with which I returned, I would choose Jon
Palethorpe rehearsing us in the coach for the singalong
which unknown to this writer we were to perform, conducted
and accompanied by Jon, at Sunday's lunchtime concert. The
fortunes smiled upon us inasmuch as we 'performed' before
the 'Val Chantant', Champtoceaux's own well rehearsed and
entirely delightful choir which entertained us with some
very well chosen and varied items from their repertoire. The
difference between them and us was marked.
The other memory is of Dr. Else Martin enjoying
herself so hugely with husband Tony. She let her hair down
figuratively as well as literally, and why not? I doubt
whether it added anything to her week-end when she was
called upon to exercise her professional skills on the
inbound ferry when over the loudhailer came the message 'If
there is a doctor aboard will he . . . . ' We felt a
stirring of pride that our own doctor was there to minister
to some unfortunate.
One of the things which made a great impression on
the Verwood party was the entirely unsolicited effort of
Champtoceaux's premier patissier M. Gaultier in creating a
huge cake which he exhibited in his shop window. Topped with
marzipan roses, the cake was decorated with the town's coat
of arms and our logo with the appropriate words
commemorating the event. A number of us were invited by Mme.
Gaultier to a party at which the cake was consumed - it
tasted even better than it looked!
quality of the food.
were certain hangovers from the Twinning trip evident among
those taken up with the traditional French bonhomie.
Certainly the wine was good and plentiful but it wasn't that
sort of hangover, but the continuation of French-style
greeting. Even casual acquaintances shake hands and say
"Bonjour" on meeting and friends endorse this with
two kisses on each cheek — quite time consuming but fun!
If only the British weren't quite so reserved — we could
all be embracing at every street corner!
Very few of those who went were fluent in French,
so it was necessary to speak as briefly as possible but to
try to get the message across. It was the same for our
French hosts, one of whom, male, was concerned that his lady
guest might be feeling tired with all the excitement and
asked simply "Do you want to go to bed?-" This
brought howls of laughter from the French and English alike.
Well, we thought he was concerned for her tiredness, anyway!
But such are the pitfalls of a twinning exchange and it's
all part of the fun. Our hosts were warm and charming, our
visit full of interest and enjoyment. The way is now paved
for more visits and exchanges.
The toast is 'Anglo-French
(Vivien Clifton, M. Claude Papin (Bank Manager)
and wife of Niederheimbach Mayor.
This picture was chosen by
"Verwood Viewpoint Magazine" from the many that
were taken as it typifies the happy atmosphere that existed
throughout the weekend.
TWINNING by Penny Thorne
Last week we went to Champtoceaux
It really was great fun
We had a lot of wine and rain
but didn't see much sun.
Saturday night a feast was held,
followed by a dance
The "entente cordiale" flowed free
as did the wine of France.
Sunday morning in the Church
the hymns were gaily sung
except by those poor English folk
who were quite "overhung"!
The charter signing took a while,
the stapling even longer.
Bill Williams speech surpassed the rest
to make the bond grow stronger.
We drank all day and danced all night
and all got rather merry,
So loath were we to leave this place
we nearly missed the ferry!
Mayor, dignitaries, citizens of Champtoceaux and of Verwood,
Although my French is still only the French of the
schoolboy even though I have entered Ie Troisieme age it
would be impolite of me to speak to you in English.
Fortunately for me I have been able to have these few words
translated into your beautiful language but you must forgive
me for reading them instead of speaking 'extempore',
Of course, I must avoid using Franglais because I
understand that too many expressions of this sort in your
language are not popular - expressions like "un whisky
soda". "Le pull-over", "Le w.c."
However, let me say that there is another sort of
"Franglais". the thousand or so French words and
phrases that have been adopted into the English language and
which we try to pronounce in the French way, for example,
"morale", "debris". "ballet",
"entre nous", "bete noir" and
"enfant terrible". We use them frequently and are
pleased with ourselves when we do.
However, enough of that.
It was five years ago when I first became involved
in the possibility of twinning Verwood with a small town “sur
les Bords de la Loire” — Champtoceaux.
MANITOU a Company which manufactures site-lift
trucks and with an operation in the
decided to come to an industrial estate on the outskirts of
our town. This Company has its headquarters in ANCEN1S. A
director of the Company, Mr. Gordon Himsworth, an
Englishman, contacted (I cannot recall exactly how) four of
our Parish Councillors, Gordon Thorne, our Chairman, Ron
Curd who is also here, Cyril Dale and me. Gordon Himsworth,
a very persuasive gentleman, told us among other things that
Champtoceaux a “sous-prefecture” of Ancenis, has to
offer a very good camping site, an old Roman Fort, les
plaisirs de la Peche, many and varied gastronomic delights,
a beautiful site on the Loire, four hotels and M. Alain
Levoyer. He did not exaggerate.
In no time at all we, the aforementioned four, were
able to interest our Parish Council in the project and to
persuade them of the advantages which would flow from
twinning our two towns and that it deserved financial
support as long as this did not include paying for
Councillors to travel, dine and wine at public expense, an
undertaking everyone involved was happy to give.
Exploratory visits from residents from each
community to the other took place and then last year in
Verwood we had the great pleasure of receiving your Mayor,
dignitaries and citizens over what was to become a happy,
pleasurable and memorable weekend.
When I joined the Committee of the Verwood Twinning
Association, it was on the clear understanding that I did
not intend to take part in the exchange visits although I
was prepared to assist in any way 1 could with the
here I find myself, honoured to be substituting for our
President, Harold Witt, Chairman of our Parish Council, who
is not able to be with us. It gives me the greatest possible
pleasure to convey to you his good wishes and that of his
Council and to express on their behalf the hope that the
bonds which have been forged between our two communities,
will strengthen over the years to come. Long live
Champtoceaux, long live Verwood, long live the twinning of
our two towns."
As Chairman of the Verwood Twinning Association, I
would like to thank my committee and all those members who
recently visited Champtoceaux for the Official Twinning Ceremony, for
the way in which they organised the unforgettable weekend,
and also for the marvellous spirit in which it was
undertaken. Not only were there many new friendships
established with our French counterparts, but also many new
friends made within the community of Verwood.
Some people may consider the Twinning Association
serves no good purpose, but after the scenes from
recently, I feel such events as the twinning can only
foster better relationships and peace among ordinary people
of different nations of the world.
Thanks to all the party and our Parish Council
document was one of several given to some members of
Twinning during the 1985 Verwood visit to Champtoceaux. The
one shown below is the document given to me by Alain Levoyer
(Mayor of Champtoceaux) and signed by the other
Dignitaries. Other documents reside in Verwood Library and
Verwood Town Hall.
"En souvenir de cette marveilleux
journee dans l'Amite" Alain Levoyer (Mayor of
other signatories belong to:
Bill Williams (Vice Chairman of the Verwood Parish Council),
Mr Gordon Thorne (Chairman of the Verwood Twinning
Mr Claude Papin (President of the French Twinning
The Oath is
written in French and English as shown below.
We, Mr B Williams, Vice-Chairman of the Parish
Council of Verwood
M A Levoyer, Mayour of Champtoceaux,
Sure that we answer our populations' wishes
Take today, THE SOLEMN OATH,
permanent links between our towns so as to favour
cultural and sport meetings and exchanges of our
to join our strength for the success of the
undertaking of peace
and prosperity which is EUROPEAN UNITY.