Celebrating 62 years of friendship with Jarnac
Thursday, July 21, 2022
Dalkeith/Jarnac Twinning Group donated 3 engravings of historic buildings in Dalkeith by local artist Ron Lugg.
Article written by Sandy Howden, Dalkeith/Jarnac Twinning Group.
Dalkeith in Midlothian has been twinned with the town of Jarnac in Charente, France since 1960. This summer a group of 8 people from the Dalkeith/Jarnac Twinning Group traveled to Jarnac to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the Charter between our two cities. Plans had first been made for a trip in 2020 but Covid-19 delayed our proposed visit.
We arrived separately through different travel arrangements from Saturday to Tuesday when we were joined by new Midlothian Provost Debbi McCall and Councilor Margot Russell for the week-long celebration which was filled with events. During their first visits to Jarnac, both brilliantly represented our department and our town of Dalkeith on such an important occasion.
On France’s national holiday, July 14 (known in the UK as Bastille Day), there was a full day of celebrations. The program started the morning when the Twinning Charter was rededicated and signed in front of the Town Hall (seat of the Municipal Council). In addition to our own 60th anniversary, Jarnac’s other twin towns were celebrating their own milestones: Lautertal, Germany (40 years); Donnacona, Canada (27); Dogliani, Italy (20 years old). Speeches were made on the steps of the Town Hall by the Mayor of Jarnac and representatives of other countries and gifts were exchanged in front of a large crowd gathered to attend the debates. Country flags and the coats of arms of the 5 cities flew down the main streets and there were information boards and photos from the past featuring our twin cities.
Provost Debbi McCall delivered her speech in French to much applause and appreciation. After the ceremonies, drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served in a shaded area next to the town hall sheltered from the 36 degree Celsius heat. It was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and renew acquaintances. One person I met came to Dalkeith to play football for the Jarnac team against the team that Gordon Duckett organized in 1970, an SMT team. He was very proud to have played the match and has very fond memories of the trip to Dalkeith. He remembers writing to a girl he had been friends with for over a year, but she moved to Ireland and they lost touch.
My wife Margaret met her pen pal, Marylise, to whom she had written since 1968 and first met in person in 1970 when Margaret attended Dalkeith Secondary School. Marylise and Margaret are both now grandparents and have met many times during our vacations in Jarnac and the region.
There was also a fantastic picnic for all visitors to the Jumelage cooked on a Bar-BQ as only the French can comfortably do. It was willingly in the shade of the trees of the magnificent park in the middle of Jarnac. Later in the evening of July 14, a community dinner took place on the main square of Jarnac, the Place du Château, then a fabulous night fireworks display (against a background of music from the countries of the twinned towns) closed the 14 July. .
Among the celebrations planned for us were visits to Aubeterre where we were served a wonderful lunch in the Salle des Fêtes before touring the small historic town and visiting the underground monolithic church of Saint-Jean d’Aubeterre. Later in the evening we were also entertained by a fantastic sound and light show in the village of Bourg Charente telling the story of cognac, with a huge crowd from all over the region. There was also free time to tour the area.
Provost Debbi went to visit one of the many cognac distilleries in the nearby town of Cognac, while Councilor Russell toured the spectacular Bassac Abbey and a walk along the beautiful Charente river to the bridges Romans, then to the memorial of a hero of the Resistance, Claude Bonnier who, during the Second World War, helped to save British airmen fleeing after being shot down. After a year, Claude Bonnier was overtaken by the occupiers and died by suicide.
On Saturday evening, the Official Dance Party brought together 160 people. We were entertained by the speeches and the exchange of gifts from the twinning associations. The Dalkeith/Jarnac twinning group donated 3 beautiful engravings of historic Dalkeith buildings by local artist Ron Lugg who allowed the group to use his designs free of charge. The digital files of the drawings were taken to the Riccio Gallery in Dalkeith who enlarged the prints and produced them on giclee paper using giclee ink and mounted them in black frames. Carlo did a fantastic job and it caused quite a stir when they were unveiled in front of the crowd in the dining room. The small registration plates for the frames were made by Apache on Tait Street and fitted to each frame. The twinning group also gifted quaichs to each of the other 3 twinning association presidents and they were also provided by Apache. This means that the donations to the Jarnac Twinning Association and the 3 other friends of the twinning have all been made by people from Dalkeith. The President of the Dalkeith/Jarnac Twinning Group, Christine McPhillips, did an excellent job of presenting these wonderful gifts, all made in Dalkeith, to our twinning friends at the Official Evening.
All of our goodbyes were said at the end of a fantastic night and friendships were cemented once again in this wonderful liaison with cities across Western Europe and Canada. There is much more I could say about this event and past events with all the people over the years at Dalkeith who have been involved, but that may be for another time if the editor allows.
If anyone would like to know more about our group or attend our meetings, please email: [email protected]
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