Monday, 20 May 2019

Henley Falaise Twinning Association

Henley Falaise Twinning Association

THE association’s annual meeting took place at Henley Golf Club on March 5.

The chairman’s report was as follows: “I would like to report that we have just come to the end of an entirely exceptional year for our association. Since that is not possible, I will follow convention and start by noting the sad passing of two members, Michael Forrest and Mary Burge.

“Happily, I can refer to a past secretary, Kay Hurley, reaching her centenary and also welcome new members, Janet Chadwick, Noelle and Andrew Morgan and (I think) Tony and Pat Cobb.

“Now to some of the quite usual aspects of the year, whose highlight for those 32 members involved was the extended weekend visit to Falaise. Encouragingly, this was five more participants than came from France to Henley the year before.

“Our travel was door-to-door by coach and the inimitable Brittany Ferries and the sun shone from dawn to dusk throughout.

“As usual, people stayed with host families, often old friends, sometimes new, but always with an amusing blend of languages as each side exercised their varying skills!

“Naturally, there were a number of extended and tasty meals and a reception in a barn by the Chateau la Fresnaye where the inevitable speeches were blessedly shorter than has occasionally been the case in the past.

“There was also time for some members to be guided on a walk round the town by one of the local tourism office’s team, a man with splendid English, great projection and an impressive ability to reveal all the signs of the town’s long history as well as the philosophy guiding its post-war reconstruction.

“We learned how the castle, once a support for fighting, became a powerful signal of Norman power later when negotiations rather than force of arms became more usual in settling affairs between contesting powers.

“By contrast with the grandeur of the castle, we saw that the telephone box Henley gave to Falaise some 30 years ago stands well-maintained, near to their camping and caravan area where members of our association are welcome to stay without charge.

“We were taken by coach to visit a slightly distant spa town, Bagnole a l’Orne, with a delightful flower garden and a lake with pedalos for the younger members (yes, there were some!) to tire themselves on.

“Henley Choral Society were in Falaise for the same weekend, combining with a local chorale, Interlude, to present a concert on the Saturday evening in one of the town’s imposing churches.

“This was most successful, well attended by the local community and by our members, and warmly received by all.

“Through the year activities offered to members included Café Parlez, with small groups meeting and chatting at Café Rouge in Hart Street, whose support we appreciate, on two evenings most months.

“Monthly film evenings, organised jointly with the Leichlingen Twinning Association, continue to attract worthwhile audiences. Thanks to Patrick Fleming and Philip Bennett for keeping this going.

“The association held its annual petanque afternoon on Saturday, September 15, competing for the Peter Lowery Memorial Shield, once again at Wallingford Petanque Club. They call this their boulodrome, part of the sports park at Hithercroft Road, Wallingford.

“A total of 21 members and guests picnicked and played, demonstrating levels of skill as wide ranging as the 70-year age difference between the youngest and oldest competitors. Age and skill at this sport do not seem in any way correlated.

“Notwithstanding that, experts and novices, young and old, seemed to have equally good fun and I will not dwell on a personal hiccup in my own experience of the day.

“Anne Sandars emerged as the victor ludorum and was presented with the shield by Jean Lowery, who also gave some bottles of wine as prizes. This was not the first Sandars family success for their daughter was a winner in 2006. Mike Lines was runner-up and Lucy Willson came third.

“The desire to include mention of all past winners on the back of the shield has not been fulfilled, so if anyone can add names the gaps may be reduced.

“By the generous willingness of the treasurer and Jeanne to allow use of their property, a summer garden party was held in rather unseasonable weather at the end of July.

“A large number of members and guests enjoyed themselves, notwithstanding the damp.

“The autumn joint party with Leichlingen in King’s Arms Barn was at least equally well attended.

“I must not finish without recording appreciation of the town council’s continuing financial and other support, not least hosting our association’s publicity on their website. For the first time in quite a while, the Mayor was able to make a very welcome appearance at one of our committee meetings.”

Denis McCoy

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