Married at last - The French and Ashford

With much pomp and ceremony Ashford has at last officially twinned with the French town of Fougères. It's been a sometimes rocky six year engagement called a 'liaison amicale' before the formal marriage with the Brittany town at the weekend, but civic leaders are confident the completion of the long awaited triangular link will be the springboard for a major expansion of not only family friendship but exchange of culture, trade and professional expertise.

In a packed council chamber on Saturday Ashford Mayor Cllr. Jo Winnifrith explained to the councillors and officials from both Fougères and Bad Münstereifel, and representatives of the various organisations who will be the future links with the twin towns, that the ceremony was the culmination of a long process. Ashford twinned with the West Germans 20 years ago, Fougères twinned with Bad Münstereifel 1 7 years ago. "Today is the wedding day for which so many people have worked so hard and so long. Today we begin a new and more lasting relationship," she said.

The official signing of the twinning scroll and exchange of national flags was she said the ceremonial protocol important only as it marks the start of a new era. She felt the formal civic exchanges were the least important once the link was forged.

"These formalities mark only the end of the beginning. True twinning is a relationship between individuals, schools, clubs and organisations with common interest," she said.

Her feelings were supported by Fougères Mayor M Jacques Faucheux, who hoped both communities would commit themselves to put twinning into practice as often and in as many areas as possible.

And the Burgermeister of Bad Münstereifel Heinz Gerlach added the new link in the chain should be signpost to the friendship of the people of Europe. He was confident activities would grow in the services of peace and for the benefit of all citizens of the three towns.


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