March Twinning Association

                              Background history                 

 

In 1963 the old March Grammar School arranged an exchange with a school in Orleans, France. Amongst the French visitors was a Guy Lejeune who stayed with a local family. Moving on to 1985 the same Guy Lejeune was again visiting the family he had stayed with as a schoolboy. At the time he was involved with the Twinning Association of St Jean-de-Braye which had links with Pfullendorf in Germany. During his stay he met with the late George Brewin, who was the Mayor of March, and his deputy, Peter Jackman, to discuss the possibility of a twinning link between March and St Jean-de-Braye. At the time Peter was also President of the March table tennis club. In the past the table tennis club had exchanged visits with Kempen in Germany but these had recently ceased. So Peter sent Guy to see Trevor Richmond who was Chairman of the table tennis league. It was agreed that Trevor, Peter and two other committee members, Geoff Canham & David Pilbrow, would visit St Jean-de-Braye in October 1985 to meet their French counterparts.

 

Following that visit a full coach of table tennis players & friends spent a very enjoyable 5 days trip to France during May 1986. As they returned home Peter, who had stayed with the Mayor in St Jean-de-Braye, thought they should form an Association to look towards the possibility of more formal links. As a result March Twinning Association was formed with Peter as the Chairman, David Phillips as the Secretary, and Norman Topliss as the Treasurer. This was the start of many informal exchanges with different clubs and organisations leading to the formal twinning of the two town councils in 1993.

 

St Jean-de-Braye is situated on the outskirts of Orleans in the Loire Valley some 70 miles south of Paris. Many of the homes in the town are relatively new and there are a few essential shops with most people shopping either at the large hypermarkets or in Orleans. The town is well serviced with public buildings, including a large sports hall that provides facilities for many sporting activities, a library and swimming pool. Being near woods and the Loire river the area provides good opportunities for walking, cycling and observing nature. One of the main employers of the area is Christian Dior, and during one visit a group of ladies were able to see how the perfume was produced together with other cosmetics.

 

The town has a bell foundry and a sample of their work can be seen over the main entrance to March Town Hall. The bell was presented to the town council in 1993 when a charter was signed to mark the first part of the official twinning of the two towns.(See below) The following year a party of 75 people travelled from March to witness the late George Brewin, as Mayor, sign on French soil.  He then went on to inaugurate a March Room in their town hall where they proudly display the connections they have made with March. The association purchased a red telephone box to mark the occasion. This was swiftly installed and now proudly stands in front of their town hall, where it continues to be maintained in working order, usually receiving an extra coat of paint before our arrival.

 

Over the years many groups have made exchanges with St Jean-de-Braye including table tennis, the athletics club, the Fenland Youth Orchestra, the Operatic Society, the photographic club, March Marlins swimming club, and groups from Neale-Wade, together with other smaller groups and individual visits. Whilst there the groups visit places of interest and in the past have seen many of the chateaux, local wine producing vineyards, a silk factory, museums, and Euro Disney for a group of youngsters. The visits give everyone the opportunity see the real French way of life, not forgetting the chance to sample their cuisine and wines. Then every other year March has the honour of hosting the friends that have been made in France.

 

Hilary - 2009 / Ray - 2013


                Official Twinning at March Town Hall



   

           Copy of Newspaper report at time of one of the early exchanges