Welcome to the Chepstow – Cormeilles Twinning Association
THE TWINNING ASSOCIATION
Chepstow’s link with Cormeilles dates right back to the Norman Conquest, when Chepstow Castle was established in 1067 by William Fitz-Osbern, Knight of Cormeilles. The Priory and Church of St Mary were founded at the same time as a dependent house of the Abbey of Cormeilles.
Cormeilles is a small, pretty, rural town in Normandy and easily accessible from the ports of Caen or Le Havre. The area is noted for its cheese, dairy industry, cider, and Calvados – which is distilled in the town itself. The seaside resorts of Honfleur and Deauville are half an hour away.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The present twinning arrangement dates back to 1972 when Abbé Meron from Cormeilles visited Chepstow and met Canon Barrie Evans. As a result, Canon Evans took a coach party to Cormeilles. In1975 the Chepstow town council invited Cormeilles to become officially twinned with Chepstow. The twinning oath was signed in Cormeilles in 1976 by the Mayor of Chepstow. Regular visits by families and schoolchildren began, and in 1977 the Chepstow – Cormeilles Twinning Association was officially founded in order to consolidate the established links. The family exchanges continue to take place annually over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
THE EXCHANGE VISITS
Every ‘even’ year it is Chepstow’s turn to welcome the French guests for 5 nights. The committee compiles a programme of events such as a welcome reception addressed by the Mayor, a day out to a place of interest, a meal, and various forms of entertainment. There is a ‘free’ day for the hosting families to do as they wish. Often people team up to organise something amongst themselves; others prefer a quiet time with their guests to recharge their batteries… it all works out one way or another. There is usually a get-together beforehand for hosts to ensure that they are all integrated into the association. This is also an opportunity for new hosts to discuss any concerns with the more experienced.
When it comes to our turn to visit Cormeilles the programme is run along similar lines and members stay with a French family. Although the twinning association is based in Chepstow we have members living as far afield as Cwmbran, Newport, Trelleck and the Forest of Dean.
Social and fund-raising events are organised throughout the year in order to finance the visit by the French. Traditionally this starts in January with the ‘Munch and Punch’, followed by the Duck Race at Mounton Brook in March. A summer BBQ is a regular feature as is the Christmas Dinner. Other events have included wine-tasting, Café René at the Chepstow festival, and a car treasure hunt. A recent innovation has been a series of French film nights, which have proved very popular.
The aim of the association is to develop and strengthen cultural links and understanding between the two towns. Membership is open to anyone who supports these aims, whether or not you speak French. A newsletter is regularly circulated to all of the families who form the association.
Our families often form lasting friendships with French families. We welcome new members! Please contact the Chairman, Tracey Kinsey, tel: 07775 900302.