Beccles hosts friends from abroad

THIRTY years of cross-Channel friendship, fun and culture was celebrated in Beccles over the Easter weekend as the town played hosts to visitors from France and Germany.

THIRTY years of cross-Channel friendship, fun and culture was celebrated in Beccles over the Easter weekend as the town played hosts to visitors from France and Germany.

The town's twinning links with Petit Couronne over the years have been among the most successful in the country, and the Beccles Twinning Association marked the anniversary with various activities in which a party from Petit Couronne's twin German town of Ahlem also joined.

At a 30th anniversary dinner at Wortwell Village Hall, tribute was paid to those who had established the links back in 1978, and a call was made for efforts to be made to encourage more young people to enjoy the exchanges.

The new mayor of Petit Couronne, Dominique Randon, who has been involved with twinning for 13 years, said the partnership between Beccles and Petit Couronne began in 1978 when Yvette Amiot was president of twinning in the French town and Colin Revell in Beccles.

“Our different presidents on both sides have given much of their time and much hard work in order to uphold this great friendship,” he said.

“Yvette, Dominique Lopez, Tony Clarke, Barbara Smith - we have to thank all of them for their work and dedication over the years - not forgetting our German friends Gerhart Hilbig and Wolfgang Rosner,” he said.

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“Today with Pat Clarke (Beccles's twinning chairman) and Angela Tehrain (the Petit Couronne twinning president) our exchanges are still flourishing and continue to be based on the mutual friendship that has always been present over the years… this anniversary that we celebrate today, as with the celebrations last year with Ahlem, is proof of the friendship that links our towns.”

He called for the friendships established over the past 30 years to be used as an example to encourage children and younger generations to follow in their footsteps.

Mrs Tehrain said a considerable number of people had taken part in at least one twinning activity over the years.

“However, we have no need to account for or quantify numbers in order to justify a relationship founded on the inherent and inalienable qualities of twinning, that are friendship and mutual exchange, and this over a period of 30 years,” she said.

On behalf of Petit Couronne, Mrs Tehrain thanked the Beccles twinning committee and its chairman for their warm welcome, excellent organisa-tion and their long-lasting friendship.

Gerhard Hillbig, leader of the German contingent, also congratulated Beccles on its 30th anniversary of twinning.

“Even though we are not officially twinned with Beccles we love to come here and in the meantime close friendships have emerged,” he said.

Mrs Clarke said through twinning “we all may have discovered the heart of the people of France. We have all experienced the warmth of family friendship.”

They had had many uproarious times, but had also shared sad times too, and she paid tribute to the late Jacques Pinot, who was in the first delegation to visit Beccles 31 years ago when the link was being planned.

Among the guests at the dinner was the Mayor of Beccles, Jeff Harris, who praised the great achievement of the twinning association over 30 years and the enormous satisfaction it had brought to those involved.

As well as the anniversary dinner at Wortwell, the weekend included a visit to Bressingham Gardens and Steam Museum near Diss on Sunday, lunch at the Park Hotel, and a get-together at the Waveney Centre, Beccles.

Unfortunately, Mrs Clarke's husband, Tony, former chief reporter at the Journal and instrumental in establishing the twinning association, was in hospital over the weekend and unable to be at the festivities. He hoped to be home again by this weekend.