Vire Exchange 2019

Our friends visit from the Rotary Club of Vire et le Bocage Click on a thumbnail to enlarge and scroll through with the arrows

Vire Exchange Visit 2019

The members of Portland Rotary Club were delighted to be able to host twelve friends from our twinned club of Vire et le Bocage, Normandie who travelled here from France for their biennial visit.

Our visitors took the overnight ferry to Portsmouth from Ouistreham. Everyone met at Mark and Ruth’s to welcome them and for a light breakfast of teacakes and homemade scones before going to individual homes to settle in after the long journey. However, our guests took us by surprise, arriving early, even before any of the hosts. They were working on French time not English!

President elect Elizabeth and her sister Sue not only looked after President Jerome and his wife Nadine, but also Stephan and Carole. Jim and Gisella were with Chrissie and Bryan, Franck and Valerie with Celia and Chris, Olivier and President Elect Fabienne with Richard and Frances and Claude and Marie-Thé with Mark and Ruth.

We were fortunate as the weather was kind – warm and sunny. This allowed a pleasant walk for everyone in the afternoon around Bincleaves Green, Nothe Gardens and Weymouth harbourside. Everyone returned to Mark and Ruth’s for more refreshments and bubbly.

The evening we divided into smaller groups of eight for dinner. Each with four Portland club hosts entertaining four French.

Saturday was again a beautiful day and many members of our club joined our visitors on the Swanage Railway from Norden to Swanage. For those interested it was the Southern Region “unrebuilt” Battle of Britain class locomotive 34072 - 257 Squadron, built in 1948, later rescued from Barry scrap yard in Wales and beautifully restored by the Swanage Railway that hauled the train.

We took a leisurely stroll along the sea front and out to Swanage pier, then took the return train to Corfe for lunch at the Fox Inn. After a long lunch the plan had been to visit Corfe Castle, but due to slippage of time we merely admired it from a distance and returned by train to Norden and thence home.

A newlywed couple were about to leave Corfe for their reception, however their classic car stubbornly refused to engage reverse gear. After several minutes of trying and much embarrassment, Rotary stepped in and members from both clubs helped the best man to push the car round so that it faced the right direction! Rotary in service again!

The evening took the form of a Gala dinner at the Heights which was attended by over fifty members and guests.

Elizabeth and Jerome both made excellent speeches. Elizabeth’s French pronunciation was particularly good and with Sue helping with the grammar she impressed both the French and the English alike.

Sadly, we had to say goodbye to our guests on Sunday. Sarah and Brian held a farewell brunch at their house with crumpets and teacakes whilst we watched a cruise ship entering Portland harbour.

After flowers, presents, banner exchanges (the very first presentation of our new banner) and farewells our visitors left for Portsmouth and their voyage home. We look forward to meeting them again next year when it is the turn for our club to visit Vire.

The weekend whilst enjoyable for hosts and visitors alike served to strengthen friendships between both our clubs. The bonds have grown stronger over the many years of our twinning and in fact, this is the 41styear of our ‘Jumelage’.

In Rotary one of our goals is to promote friendship and our exchange visits certainly do this.

However, Rotary is above all a Service Organisation. In fact, our Guiding Principles state that “The object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of Service” and in order to enable this “develop acquaintance as an opportunity for service”

Portland Rotary Club has a long history of undertaking International projects such as providing water systems to poor villages in Nepal. Indeed, members of the club will be visiting some projects recently completed in November 2019. It was therefore a true delight that during this visit both clubs have had discussions on international aid and our colleagues from France have expressed a desire to take part and we have agreed to work together on these International projects.