We hope you’ve all had an enjoyable summer break. It’s been a long time now since our French friends visited us and it’s time to be thinking about the AGM. We have booked St Lawrence Parish Room for Friday 25th October and the meeting will start at 7.30 pm. The Mayor has kindly agreed to chair the meeting as is usually the case.

It’s important that as many of you come as possible as we need to make some very important decisions. We may indeed have to dissolve the Association unless we can get more support - it is very important that we consider all options, as we cannot continue as we are. Thierry & Celia have now moved to South Wales and although Thierry is still our Chairman it’s not really practicable for him to continue in this role after the AGM. I have no wish to be Chairman so we will need a volunteer. We also need more committee members, and, more importantly, we need ideas as to how we can get more members, especially younger ones. All suggestions are welcome.

I will circulate the Agenda before the meeting, along with the Minutes of the 2018 AGM.

We have been invited to Laon for the weekend of 29 May to 1 June 2020 and it is my hope that this visit go ahead. With our current membership we are unlikely to have a sufficient number of participants to hire a coach or even a minibus, so we may have to use our own cars - we shall see. Please put these dates in your diaries.

Finally, I need to ask you to pay your annual subscription to the Association if you haven’t already done so. At our last AGM we agreed it should be paid on the 1st April from 2019 onwards so it really is overdue. We also agreed that the subscription for 2019-20 should be £15 individual or £30 for a couple. Children free. Please send your cheque, payable to Winchester-Laon Twinning Association, to our Treasurer, John Stroulger. Alternatively, you may pay by direct transfer to the Association’s Bank Account. Please let John know by email if you pay by this method.

Twinning Association Celebrates 25 Years

This year was the turn of the French group from the Winchester, Laon Twinning Association to visit Winchester. Forty nine visitors stayed with ‘twinners’ in the city and surrounding area. A packed programme was organised with Saturday spent in Oxford where guided tours were given in English and French and were followed by an impressive afternoon tea. Sunday was spent with hosts and the climax of the visit was a party and buffet supper in the evening. A spectacular cake bearing the heraldic badges of both cities took pride of place.

The Mayor of Winchester, Councillor Eleanor Bell, gave a speech in perfect French, to the great delight of the visitors. Speeches were also made by Philippe Mozin, Deputy Mayor of Laon, and by Thierry De Nitto and Roger Malhomme, respective Presidents of the Winchester and Laon groups. The firm intention to continue the friendship between the two cities was expressed, together with the hope that the Association will in due course celebrate its golden anniversary! The two mayors then cut the cake.

The cake cut by the Mayor of Winchester and the Deputy Mayor of Laon
The cake cut by the Mayor of Winchester and the Deputy Mayor of Laon

Laon is situated some 50km from Reims and 130km from Paris. Our two cities have much in common: spectacular cathedrals; remnants of city walls with gates, populations of similar size and a range of cultural activities.

Throughout the year a number of social evenings are held in Winchester, usually with a French flavour, for example: the Fête des Rois (Feast of the Kings) in January. New members are always welcome. It is not necessary to speak French. Some of the French speak no English. Guests can usually be matched with hosts who speak their language.

Beryl Dixon