Ross-on-Wye and Cond�-sur-Noireau in Normandy have been twinning companions for over 30 years. Alison Field, Chair of Ross-on-Wye, fills us in on the fun and festivity that has taken place over this time.
Cond�-sur-Noireau is fairly similar in size, agriculture and industry to Ross-on-Wye. The region is well known for its cider, Calvados and cheeses as well as the beautiful Suisse Normande, a dramatic valley dominated by gorges and cliffs with a superb vista over the river Orne not unlike that of Symonds Yat over the Wye. The verdant, rolling countryside is very much reminiscent of our lovely county of Herefordshire.
Our Association is an enthusiastic group of around fifty families, couples and singles, each twinned with a French household in friendships that grow year by year. Every two years we travel to France by coach or car for a weekend. Every other year, the French come here. These weekends are full and happy, genuine cultural exchanges where, through eating, drinking and living together, we expand our knowledge of each other and our countries, finding out what makes them different and just how much we have in common. Between visits, each association holds social events. It’s lovely how people from all walks of life are brought together by this common interest.
In 2009, our Twinning Association celebrated its 30th birthday. Some members had been in the association from the start, which made it all the more special. The French twinning association put up posters everywhere in and around the town. A French celebration cake was created for the anniversary; a veritable sculpture in sugar and cr�me patissi�re, built upwards from the base, thus called a ‘pi�ce mont�e’.
On our visit to Cond� last year, the town was celebrating its 1100th anniversary as part of the 11th centenary of Normandy, 911-2011. Some of our hosts were dressed in traditional medieval costume to greet us. This year, our twinning association entered a sedan chair race as part of the Ross-on-Wye Georgian Day event. A marvellous chair was built and decorated then occupied on the day by our Chairman (not me), confidently wearing a crash helmet while she and her bearers carried French sticks. Although the Ross twinning team came second in the race they did win a prize for the best decorated chair. So well decorated was the chair that it was decided not to dismantle it and it is hoped that it might be used to carry the president of the French association for an event during their visit to us this year!
I laid a wreath on Remembrance Sunday on behalf of our Twinning Association. It reminded me that, even today, the people of Cond� and the northern coastal area of France remember and are grateful to the British and American troops. This was my first official act as Chair of our Twinning Association and it was very emotional for me. I felt I represented France in paying tribute to those from Ross who died in the Second World War. Cond� was largely destroyed in the war and the people there do remember, even now, and our communities share an even deeper friendship because of it.
Alison Field Chair, Ross-on-Wye / Cond�-sur-Noireau Twinning Association