In 1991 Horley teacher Edith Dermaux and a like-minded French resident created the Horley-Vimy Twinning Association, with the hope of bringing people together.
Now, 25 years-on firm friendships have been formed and there’s been many visits across the channel – including one two months’ ago to celebrate the anniversary!
“The idea was to bring English and French people together, give them a chance to stay in each other’s homes to see how they live and to forge friendships, some of which have continued to this day,” President Gill Partridge, who was on the inaugural committee, says.
“But the main aim of the Twinning Association are to create a liaison between social clubs, organise children and company exchanges, unite penfriends and provide education.”
Between May 6 – 8, 20 Horley residents visited the lovely farming town, located in Northern France to celebrate the group’s longstanding connection.
Staying with French hosts, members explored Lille, enjoyed a grand soiree, attended by more than 100 people and relaxed over a buffet lunch, sharing jokes. Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it?
Vimy residents will be travelling to Horley between October 7 – 9 to continue the anniversary festivities. Already the Horley members are planning their trip to perfection – with a tour of the Houses of Parliament, a traditional English meal and buffet lunch, all organised for the weekend.
So, what do guests from Vimy like most about Horley?
“There are usually 20-30 guests from Vimy, and they say they enjoy getting to know English families. They also like our pubs and shopping!” chair Sue Cowell says.
“Usually, they come over on a Saturday and stop somewhere en-route for us to meet them, such as Hever Castle, Chartwell, Brighton or London. They then spend the evening with their host families.
We all meet up for Sunday lunch before their return journey. In the past when they have arrived on a Friday, they have taken part in local events like the Horley Carnival, the fireworks and Veteran
“The best bit about being part of the Horley-Vimy Twinning Association is making long-lasting friendships in England and in France,” Gill, tells me.
“Everyone is welcome. You don’t need to be able to speak French,” Sue adds. “We would particularly like families with children to become involved.”
If you fancy putting your O-level, or GCSE French to good use or just want to make friends, why not join?
Contact: Sue Cowell firstname.lastname@example.org or Gill Partridge email@example.com for further details.
By Shelley Baker