Stamford forges links with twin town residents for forty years

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Atwinning society has helped create firm friendships between Stamford residents and people who live in Stamford’s twin towns in the Czech Republic and France.

Stamford was twinned with historic French town Vence in 1978 after Stamford town councillor Soni Cloudesley-Seddon, whose relative lived in Vence, thought it would be a good idea to establish a link between the two places.

The Stamford and District Twinning Association was formed in the same year and residents from the towns have visited each other ever since.

In 2001, the twinning association began exactly the same relationship with Kutna Hora, following Stamford’s twinning with the town in 1999.

Those taking part in the scheme, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, are paired-up with host families which has resulted in friendships flourishing.

John Polkinghorne, chairman of the Stamford and District Twinning Association, said: “We are very friendly with our French people. The friendships do develop in these formal visits.

“We know their families, they know our families - we are one family.”

John and his wife, Eileen have been paired with the Adam family in France and were even invited to the 18th birthday of twins from the Adam family in Vence outside of the scheme.

The pair were one of the only guests to join the twins at the meal with the other attendees being their parents and grandparents.

“We were so honored to be there and be involved,” John said.

“That is the sort of relationship that can build up. It doesn’t always but that is the sort of thing that has happened in the past.”

Another member of the Adam family, an 89-year-old man who had never left France was once invited along with the family to stay with the Polkinghorne’s in Stamford and his 90th birthday was celebrated at a civic reception to welcome the visitors at Stamford Town Hall.

Vence is a Medieval town which sits in the hills of the Alpes-Maritimes area of France.

Kutna Hora is another Medieval town which flourished between the 13th and 16th Century due to silver mines which are buried beneath it.

Stamford is twinned with the towns as all three are of similar size, population and have a Medieval history.

The Stamford Twinning Association organises a series of activities for their guests and when they go abroad their French and Czech counterparts do the same for them.

Activities organised for the visitors when they spend a week in Stamford can vary from visiting the Station Heritage Centre at RAF Wittering to seeing alpacas at Ridgeview Farm in Belmesthorpe.

And the guests even have the chance to spend two days as they wish, with day trips to London proving a popular choice.

John, who lives in Baston, said: “We rack our brains each year to see where we can take them.”

Stamford welcomes residents from both towns on alternate years.

And in July when Vence residents come over, there will be a celebration of the association’s 40th anniversary at a civic reception for guests at Stamford Town Hall.

Because it is the 40th anniversary of the twinning between the two towns there has been a heightened interest in residents from Vence wanting to come over to Stamford.

The twinning association is struggling to find extra hosts to accommodate them and is appealing to people in the town to act as a host.

Hosts are expected to provide bed and breakfast and on some days a main meal and transport for the visitors. Those who act as hosts will be invited to join the Twinning Association’s trip to Vence next year.

To ensure the scheme can continue, each year a variety of fundraising activities are held by the association each year to raise £3,000 to £3,500, including stalls at Stamford Market and Stamford Festival.

Memberships to the twinning society is free for students, £20 per year for those who wish to be a host and £10 for non-hosts.

If you would like to be part of the twinning scheme or be a host this year call John on 01778 561540.