Lewes in East Sussex is twinned with the Blois, a delightful town situated on the River Loire in the Loire Valley. Jackie Price, Chairman of Lewes Twinning Association, discusses the unique bond of camaraderie that has been cultivated over time by the two towns.
Lewes and Blois have been officially joined in a twinning scheme since 1963, but the first school exchange took place in 1947.Of course there have been many visits over the years involving members of the Twinning Associations but also choirs, sports groups and dancing groups.
There have been some more unusual links. One concerns Lewes’s famous bonfire celebrations. As well as visitors from Blois coming to view the processions and firework displays, some of the local bonfire societies have gone to Blois and taken part in the Carnival processions. Another cultural confluence is Lewes Operatic Society who has performed several times in Blois taking over abridged versions of shows such as Die Fledermaus and The Merry Widow with the dialogue being spoken in French.
Grammar and secondary school pupil exchanges have taken place over the years and today there are email links between Priory School and College Vienne. There are regular work experience exchanges with students working at the Ch�teau in Blois and students working at the Town Hall in Lewes which allows students to experience life at local colleges.
Twinning friendships were highlighted when Lewes was badly flooded back in 2000. Several thousand pounds was collected in Blois and given to support the Lewes residents who suffered with loss of property and belongings.
Most of all, personal relationships between the two towns have grown thanks to our twinning arrangement, with many friendships being made over the years. In one instance two families have been visiting each other for over 60 years. They have become part of each other’s family, going to weddings and, sadly, funerals, and being lucky enough to really experience one another’s culture.