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Spring 2016

Twenty Years of Twinning and the Return of School Exchange


2016 marks twenty years of Twinning between the communities of Barrow upon Soar and Marans, in the Charente Maritime region of South West France.

During the last week of August 2016 a Twentieth Anniversary Celebration will take place in Marans. The Anniversary in Barrow will be marked by a programme of special events in 2017 when it is hoped that local people will join in the celebration. In July 1996 the official charter was signed in Marans by Brian Henman, the then Chair of the Parish Council and Bernard Bouchereau the Mayor of Marans. The following year a reciprocal ceremony was held in Barrow.

Since then there have been annual exchange visits between the two communities and many enduring friendships established. Regrettably, shortly after the official twinning the school exchange visits between Humphrey Perkins High School and Maurice Calmel School were discontinued. These exchanges which became an important feature of the school curriculum were instigated in the mid-fifties by Miss Walker who was a much respected French Teacher at the school for many years.

Today many people who took part in these exchanges, including Bernard Bouchereau and several Barrow residents, retain fond memories of the visits and the friendships formed. Following the official twinning the newly formed Barrow and District Twinning Association made many attempts to seek a reintroduction of the school exchange. Regrettably due to new pressures placed upon schools on both sides of the channel these initiatives did not come to fruition.

In 2015 however the group of Marandais who visited Barrow included an enthusiastic teacher Fabienne Colas, from the College Marie Eustelle in Marans. As a result of her determination and persistence in contacting a teacher of French at Humphrey Perkins Academy the Twinning Association is delighted to be able to report that school exchanges will once again be available to students in our twinned communities.

In March we understand that some 25 students from Barrow will visit Marans, whilst, in June approximately 45 students from Marans will spend time at Humphrey Perkins. We sincerely hope that this series of exchanges will be as enduring and valuable as those begun by Miss Walker so many years ago. To mark the Twentieth Anniversary of official twinning Barrow Twinning Association would love to hear from anyone who took part in those early exchanges or indeed from anyone interested in establishing sporting, commercial or social links with our twinned town.

Contact: Sue Rodgers sue.rodgers@hotmail.com