Ashby de la Zouch and Pithiviers mark 60th anniversary of towns being twinned - and want the link to become even stronger in years to come

By Graham Hill

12th Jun 2022 | Local News

The Ashby-de-la-Zouch-Pithiviers Twinning Association has welcomed visitors from France for a delayed 60th anniversary of the two towns' pairing.

Around 30 people from Pithiviers attended a Civic Reception held yesterday (Saturday) at Ivanhoe College, where they met Twinning Association members and representatives of Ashby de la Zouch Town Council.

But although it was the 60th Anniversary of the towns being twinned - possibly making it the country's longest such arrangement - it was an event that should have been marked two years ago.

The Civic Reception was held at Ivanhoe College

The Covid pandemic saw both the 2020 and 2021 event cancelled, which meant that only now could it take place.

A dinner was held at the Lyric Rooms on Friday evening with visits to the National Aboretum in Alrewas, Stratford Upon Avon and the National Brewery Centre in Burton, taking place or happening over the next few days.

A large 60th Anniversary cake - which took three days to prepare - was baked by Tracey Bucknall of Ivanhoe College, with Mark McIntosh of Mmacaron in Market Street, presenting a special version of the Pithiviers pastry.

Awards were also made to two Ivanhoe College pupils Hazel Jeffrey and Harry Booton, who both received an engraved shield and a book token as the most outstanding Year Nine French students.

But both the English and French sides of the twinning said that it something which should carry on and become stronger in future years.

There are plans to link schools and sporting clubs in the area.

Tracey Bucknall, of Ivanhoe College, prepared the 60th anniversary cake for the occasion

Jean-Claude Bregbat, of the Pithiviers Twinning Association, said: "This is our first meeting since 2019, when Ashby came to France.

"Covid has been difficult for both sides but it is important to maintain the unity between the two towns.

"In France, it was was one of the first twinnings when it was founded in 1960.

"It is something we would like to be made stronger in future years, we would like more younger people to be a part of it.

"I've been President for six years, but the woman who was before me was in the post for 17 years. However, she was unable to come here this time due to ill health.

"But now, we are both trying to find new members, I want to connect the rugby clubs in the two towns to encourage the younger people.

Martk McIntosh, owner of Mmacaron in Market Street, presented Jean-Claude with a special Pithiviers pastry

"There are also to be links with primary schools, five in Pithiviers, and maybe five here. But we need teachers to volunteer.">

"It has happened in the past, but we also want this to happen for the future of the twinning."

Joan Foster, of the Ashby Twinning Association, said: "This should have happened in 2020 of course, but this does probably make us the oldest twinning in the country.

"Twinning is perhaps even more important now.

"The idea of it was to get people to learn about other people's way of life, other culture, so that we would have a better understanding, with the aim of ending all wars.

"We don't need it any more than we do right now.

Two of Ivanhoe College's outstanding French students were presented with awards

"There are differences and we need to embrace those differences, understand and be friends.

"We are united as towns, and it's wonderful that we can invite people into our homes and show them the way we live and say nothing is better or worse, just different."

Mayor of Ashby, Cllr John Deakin, spoke to the reception and welcomed the visitors from Pithviers.

He said: "Let me say how delighted I am, in my first term as Mayor, to be able to welcome our guests from Pithiviers for your bi-annual visit.

"I was privileged to meet many of you at the dinner at the Lyric Rooms.

Ashby's Mayor, Cllr John Deakin, spoke to those gathered at Ivanhoe College for the Civic Reception

"I understand this visit has been delayed since 2020, so this is our 60th anniversary.

"These visits began in 1960 when the councils in both of our towns undertook to foster good relations and the cultural enhancement to the benefit of both plaaces.

"We are proud the twinning arrangement remains as strong as it did all of those years ago.

"When our predecessors sat down before Ashby de la Zouch Castle to sign the twinning charter, this must have been exactly what they had in mind and I'm sure they would be pleased, and perhaps even a little surprised, to see how that link has endured, grown and strengthened over the intervening years "


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