Bonjour mes amis! The prospect of a second twin town for Lytham St Annes has moved a substantial step closer.
A delegation from the Lytham St Annes Twinning Association has been invited on a fact-finding tour to Caudry in northern France within the next few weeks and officials are hopeful that an official link-up could follow.
Lytham St Annes has been twinned for more than 30 years with Werne in Germany and has been looking for some time to extend its links into France.
Association chairman Tony Ford made contact with civic leaders in Caudry following their request to twin with an English town and said: “It would be wonderful if we could develop a twinning link with Caudry along the lines of that with Werne, of which we are so proud.
“I was made very welcome when I made an impromptu visit to Caudry as part of a recent holiday in France and I was able to take up the offer to talk to their twinning association and met with the Deputy Mayor who has responsibility for twinning activities.
“An exchange of letters, emails, brochures and newsletters has already taken place and our French counterparts have already extended an invitation to host a small delegation from St Annes on a fact-finding tour in April or May.
“With a population of some 15,000, Caudry is slightly smaller in terms of population than Lytham St Annes (which had some 26,000 residents in the 2011 census) but Caudry extends over quite a large area.
“It is only a two-hour drive from the tunnel and very close to Charleroi airport just over the border in Belgium so it will mean reciprocal visits will be easy to arrange.”
Caudry, already twinned with the ferfman town of Wedel, is renowned for its lace and embroidery and although the last factory closed some years ago it has since been turned into an attractive museum dedicated to the town’s industrial heritage and contemporary fashion.
The town has a British Cemetery commemorates 700 First World War casualties, of whom more than 50 are unidentified and the cemetery includes special memorials are erected to four soldiers and one airman from the UK known to be buried among them.
Deputy Mayor of Caudry Anne-Sophie Duez said “We look forward to welcoming a party from Lytham St Annes and hope we can build a lasting relationship.
“I am particularly interested in the work being done by members of St Annes Parish church in identifying the graves of First World soldiers and I was pleased to receive a copy of the World War I Memorial Grave Trail.
Tony, a former mayor of Sr Annes who still serves on St Annes Town Council as well as Fylde Council, added: ““I hope that if a formal twinning arrangement came about such a link would be of interest to our local residents.
Many studied French at school and might like the opportunity to revisit their linguistic skills.”
“Civic leaders in Caudry are very keen to promote sporting links, activities involving young people and want to work with its partners in commemorating the anniversary of the end of the First World War.
“A high level of interest is being shown by AKS and Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College, which has long had a students’ exchange arrangement with Werne, while the local French Circle too is also very interested and plans to take out a group membership of the Twinning Association.”
The Association is keen to recruit new members, especially if those interested in helping to further links with this French town but Tony points out that any trips to visit Caudry or indeed Werne are funded entirely by the members themselves.
Lytham St Annes has been twinned with Werne, in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of ggermany close to Dortmund, since 1984 and there have regular exchange visits over the years. A part from werne was last in Fylde for the 2014 St Annes Carnival weekend when the 30th annuverasey of the relationship was celebrated, while a party from Lytham St Annes headed to Germany last October.