CONTACT CLUB - TWINNING WITH FRENCH CLUB
We are twinned with the Rotary Club of St. Pol sur Ternoise in France
It is customary for clubs to form an association with a Rotary Club abroad. In our case we have links with a french club – the Rotary Club of St. Pol sur Ternoise – in the Nord, Pas de Calais region, some 95 kms from the Channel ports.
Our association began in 1958 – the same year our two clubs were formed – and annual exchange visits take place, alternating between France and the U.K.
Many long term friendships have developed over the years which helps to foster the Rotary movement’s ethos of fostering better international understanding and relations.
A LITTLE HISTORY
From the Archives : “The District International Chairman mentioned two possible contacts. Denaim Bouchain, 10 km from Valenciennes and also St. Pol sur Ternoise (Pas de Calais), both in France. On 10th October 1958 Pierre Bonnel of the Rotary Club of St. Pol wrote and invited our club to establish contact with them. St. Pol has 20 members, was established in February 1958 and chartered on the 4th October. St. Pol is a small town of 5,500 inhabitants in an agricultural district, situated 95 km from Calais and 32 km from Arras”. And so the association began. Past President Doug Nurney has been made an Honorary Member of the St. Pol Club; whilst we have made Francois Germe, Jean-Claude Goethals and Martie Christine Dupuis all honorary members of our club.
2014 EXCHANGE VISIT TO ST. POL
Saturday, 26 April 2014 Veronique Dhotel, President of the Rotary Club de St. Pol sur Ternoise hosted an international meeting with guests from the U.K., Belgium and Germany with whom they are also twinned. Here is our report of the event :
Lens, in the north of France, finds the Cranbrook and Hawkhurst group in the midst of a torrent of different languages! Yes, the start of the International twinning weekend with our French counterparts of St. Pol sur Ternoise, is in a restaurant full of French, Belgiums and Germans all chatting together. We are soon exchanging kisses and handshakes with French friends that we have known for years (lots of whom, of course, speak excellent English!). After a good meal and wine there is a welcome speech and then a talk about the regeneration of this old coal mining area – all ably translated by Francoise into English for us. We are soon whisked off to the modern, new Louvre museum close by to view some of the art exhibits. Then we have a couple of hours to freshen up in hotel or host home before the Gala Dinner.
The Gala Dinner was held in the old Abbey of St. Vlaast in Arras, that has itself been converted into a museum – a most impressive and awe inspiring building. President Veronique DHotel’s theme for her year in office is about Art in the community, hence her choice of locations and events. After champagne and delicious canapés, we are seated. We are again treated to speeches – by our host, the President Veronique DHotel, the Belgium and German Presidents – all translated of course – and by VP, Chris on behalf of the Cranbrook and Hawkhurst attendees. We also gave a much appreciated gift. Finally, down to business – a tasty four course meal with wine, chatting with friends old and new.
Sunday, inspite of chilly winds, a splendid walking tour around Arras was organised for the more hardy souls. This was followed by more drinks and canapés (there is a theme to the weekend!) and another delicious lunch with more wine. Of course there were then yet more speeches of thanks and goodbyes and this time also from the incoming new President for next year – a lovely lady called Laurence . We agreed that they will be coming to us next year and Chris, in his impromptu speech, promised a “Surprise” and that he would be speaking more French…..