Visitors from Pithiviers welcomed to Ashby - with plea for locals to keep twinning link alive

By Graham Hill

18th Jun 2024 | Local News

Pithiviers Mayor, Philippe Noland, and dignitaries from Ashby's twin town attended the reception. Photos: Ashby Nub News
Pithiviers Mayor, Philippe Noland, and dignitaries from Ashby's twin town attended the reception. Photos: Ashby Nub News

The Ashby-de-la-Zouch-Pithiviers Twinning Association this week welcomed visitors from France for the two towns' annual pairing - with a plea for more people to get involved and maintain the link.

Around 30 people from Pithiviers attended a Civic Reception held Saturday at Ivanhoe College, where they met Twinning Association members and representatives of Ashby de la Zouch Town Council, including Mayor Cllr Liz Parle.

But representatives from both sides of the Channel expressed concerns that the towns' twinning, which has been in place since 1960, must bring in fresh faces if the arrangement is to last another 64 years.

The Mayor of Ashby, Cllr Liz Parle, and Pithiviers, Philippe Noland, presented Aaron and Lucy with prizes for French study

Elaine Shaw, of the Ashby Twinning Association, told Nub News: "It's more than just an exchange, there are families who've known each other for 30 years and stay in touch between visits - some maybe a bit longer.

"That's how it works when we go to France and vice-versa. We pay for the excursions from Ashby and it works the other way around in Pithiviers.

"With the twinning, everything's crammed into one weekend in terms of building friendships.

"Now, of course, it's so much easier for people to keep in touch with email and social media."

But both towns are aware of the importance to keep the link going - and want younger people to become part of the town twinning.

Elaine added: "Every time you try and make that bond a bit stronger.

"People are very welcome to contact us. I can speak French, but we also have some completely non-French speakers."

The reception was held at Ivanhoe School in Ashby

The visitors from Pithiviers were taken to Bletchley Park and Lincoln Cathedral during their stay, with a barn dance and hog roast held at Ashby Rugby Club last Saturday.

Elaine added: "There's a lot of work that goes into the visits, and we organise social events ourselves, to raise the funds to be able to do that."

The Mayor of Pitiviers, Philippe Noland, also attended the reception.

He presented prizes to two students in recognition of their French studies at Ivanhoe School.

Monsieur Noland said: "The union with England has a purpose, that's why this link is very important.

"Ashby's a lovely town, especially as it has a castle - and a Catholic Church for me!

"But it's very difficult to maintain the link, it needs a lot of work to keep it going.

"We have four twin towns - those in Germany, Portugal, and Turkey as well as Ashby.

"But there aren't enough young people at the moment, it's the same for both towns. We have ageing populations in terms of maintaining the twinning.

"The history is that it provided a pathway from the last war in Europe.

"It was continuing the links with England, but reconciliation with Germany."

Cllr Parle added: "I think it's important that we have connections with other people in other countries.

"Our children went on the exchange when they used to do that. They would go to France for 10 days. The French children would come back here for 10 days, it was great to get first hand experience of it. 

"My eldest one still has contacts with her friend in France. But the people who came to Ashby last weekend, some have been coming for a very long time and are good friends with people in Ashby.

"So I agree that it is important that we keep this link going."

• Anyone interested in the Ashby-de-la-Zouch-Pithiviers Twinning Association can email [email protected]


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