On the 52nd anniversary of the European flag and through the hard work of all the Twinning Association Committee, its ordinary members and the Town Council, Verwood and Three Legged Cross, on the Dorset/Hampshire border, was one of only 18, and the only UK municipality to be awarded the "European Flag of Honour” of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg for 2007. Entrants were judged on their efforts in European Events, exchange visits, and twinnings with other towns.
The "Flag of Honour" was officially handed over to Mayor Alec Nicholls at a civic ceremony by the Swedish "Hon. Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe - Kerstin Ekman" (see picture) on Friday the 19th of October. Many dignitaries attended including mayors, the High Sheriff of Dorset and the county's Lord Lieutenant.
There are four awards - "European Diploma", "Flag of Honour", "Plaque of Honour" and the single "Europe Prize" - which can only be presented in order. Verwood and Three Legged Cross received the "Diploma" in 2005 and was therefore entitled to be considered for the "Flag of Honour" in 2007. Rushmoor in Hampshire was the only UK town to be awarded the "European Diploma" in 2007, while Nuremberg won the overall "Europe Prize". Select the COE Logo to read the press release.
Two days of celebrations were arranged by the Town Council and the Twinning Association of Verwood and Three Legged Cross to mark the presentation of the flag, while on Saturday the 20th, a Celebration and "Fun Day" for all the town took place under the name of "FLAGFEST".
The chairman Mrs. Catharina Green who retired at the Twinning Associations AGM, held on the 18th of October said that "It was wonderful when the town was awarded the European Diploma in 2005, but this was the pinnacle of the Associations achievement".
Civic Celebrations (19th Oct 2007)
The official celebrations, organised by the Town Council at the new Verwood HUB, started at 10:30 with guests being given a cup of coffee before being ushered outside to witness the fly past of two Chinook Helicopters from RAF Odiham.
After group photographs were taken, guests returned to the "Merryfield Theatre", which had been suitably dressed for the occasion.
In 1981, after discussions with his friend Alain Levoyer (who was then the Mayor of Champtoceaux) a letter was sent by Gordon Himsworth (a Director of Manitou) to the then Verwood Parish Council, requesting a meeting to discuss a possible twinning between Verwood and Champtoceaux.
(the photo shows from L to R - Gordon Himsworth and Alain Levoyer)
A meeting was arranged at the Monmouth Ash Public House, at which Mr Himsworth and four Parish Councilors, R V W Curd, L Roberts, G J Thorne and F T (Bill) Williams, were present which resulted in the setting up of the Twinning Association and the rest as they say is history. (Select here to visit the section on Twinning History).
This photo shows all the surviving Verwood members of that initial meeting. In addition it shows all the chairmen of the Twinning Association since its inception - Gordon Thorne, Jon Palethorpe, Geoff Higley, Brian Bowey, Catharina Green and the new chairman Terry Bright.
(from L to R - Jon Palethorpe, Brian Bowey, Catharina Green, Terry Bright & Geoff Higley. Seated from L to R are Ron Curd & Gordon Thorne.)
Speeches were given by the current Mayor of Verwood and Three Legged Cross, Kirsten Ekman, Alain Levoyer, Gordon Himsworth, plus representatives from the Twinning Association, Champtoceaux and Liederbach am Taunus. Children from Emmanuel Middle School in Verwood and Queen Elizabeth's Upper School in Wimborne entertained us, and also led the guests in singing the European Anthem (Ode to Joy) and both verses of "The National Anthem". Soprano Emily Goad thrilled the guests with her rendition of 'Meadowlark'.The "Flag of Honour" was presented and the cake was cut.
FLAGFEST DAY (20th Oct. 2007)
The Recreation Ground thronged with families enjoying arena displays and activity events including face painting, bouncy castle and a roundabout, plus attractions from owls to vintage cars including stands and displays from many local groups and societies
Courtesy of Manitou, two fearless boys from Portsmouth known as the biker boys thrilled the crowd with their daredevil stunts on their mountain bikes, and rides, 21metres into the sky aboard 2 Manitou Cherry Pickers, ran all day, and proved very popular.
During the afternoon the Verwood Choral Society and Verwood Concert Brass added to the carnival atmosphere and boys and girls from Tae Kwan Do gave a demonstration which drew applause. In the Memorial Hall there were displays of twinning memorabilia, the Verwood Flower Club, the New Forest Spinners and Dyers and the Library also had stands. Refreshments from cafe Rene. Forest FM provided the PA with music, commentary and interviews during the afternoons live broadcast.
On Ferrett Green there was mulled wine available from the Twinning Committee Marquee, Hot Dogs and Beef Burgers from Andrews butchers while Terry Cheater provided Steam Train rides. Chris Albray demonstrated Pole Lathe turning, Suzuki showed off their latest motor bikes while the Recycling stand proved popular. Verwood Hub also hosted a climbing Frame and Play Station league on the Cinema screen and the Fire Station and British Legion had open days.
Shops in Verwood and Three Legged Cross decorated their shop windows, to give the town a Festive spirit. Donations received went to the Mayor's Charity, which this year is “St Gabriel's”.
Having been chairman of the twinning association during the lengthy efforts to pro-mote harmony and understanding within Europe, Catharina Green was present at the cutting of a celebration cake in the Memorial Hall at 2:30 p.m. She was joined by current chairman Terry Bright and the Mayor and Mayoress of Verwood, Alec and Lesley Nicholls, plus twinning and town council members. Swedish MP Kerstin Ekman warmly congratulated everyone on the prestigious award and A Good time was had by all.
above shows the new chairman Terry Bright, Mayor - Alec
Timetable of some of the Events
20th Oct 2007 - List of attractions by group
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