'We mustn't be parochial' - Hitchin and twin town Nuits-St-George mark 40-year milestone
PUBLISHED: 09:55 28 November 2016 | UPDATED: 09:55 28 November 2016
The town of Hitchin has been twinned with France's Nuits-St-Georges since 1976 - making it 40 years since the original twinning agreement.
To mark four decades of North Herts’ version of the entente cordiale with their sister town in Burgundy in eastern France, around 80 members of the Hitchin Twin Town Association gathered at St Ippolyts Village Hall for their annual fundraising event, the Soiree Nuitone.
They were joined by councillor Alan Millard – vice chairman of North Herts District Council – and his wife Maureen for a sumptuous four-course meal enjoyed by all.
To help the food go down the meal was accompanied by four fine wines purchased direct from a vineyard in Nuits-St-Georges, one of the most renowned wine producing regions in France – with music provided by DanseHerts.
The speeches and exchange of gifts took place in the very same room as the official signing ceremony 40 years ago when councillor Cliff Marshall signed the agreement on behalf of the council.
At the anniversary ceremony HTTA presented Nuits-St-Georges with a framed period railway poster promoting Hitchin as a nostalgic reminder of the early days of the association between the two towns.
Back in 1976 Mr Marshall represented the council and presented a Herts coat of arms to Nuits mayor at the time, Bernard Barbier.
Earlier this year, in May, a party of 43 members of HTTA travelled by coach to Nuits-St-Georges to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the signing of the twinning agreement – and visited the very room the historic agreement was signed in.
Monique and Joy Hall from Hitchin were present when the original charter was signed in 1976 and were also there in May – earning the nickname Les Jumelles du Jumelage – twins of the twinning.
Joy shared her memories of the first trip 40 years ago, telling of a French lady who had been trying for a baby.
She mentioned it to the Offley Morris Men who had come to dance in Nuits on the same trip.
Once the Green Man – a character believed to embody fertility – from the Offley Morris men had heard about the woman, he kissed her and told her she would fall pregnant – and lo and behold she did!
When Joy later told the Green Man in question about the story he shrugged and told her it happens all the time.
Genial HTTA patron Richard Cox, who has been involved with the group for 25 years, stressed the importance of such organisations. He said: “We mustn’t be parochial.
“In 1958 Hitchin was twinned with Germany’s Bingen am Rhein. The idea was to choose a town of similar size, a similar distance away from a big city. The relationship with Nuits-St-Georges came as they were twinned with Bingen.
“We are a non-political organisation and we have a bit of fun in a light-hearted manner.”
HTTA always welcomes new members. Contact Derek Boothby on 01462 640790 or email him at email@example.com if you’d like to find out more.