62 years of twinned friendship with Jarnac

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The twinning charter was rededicated and signed by Mayor M. Philippe Gesse de Jarnac and the provost of Midlothian, Debbi McCall. On the right, the president of the Dalkeith twinning, Christine McPhillips

This article was written by Margaret Howden.

Our group from the Dalkeith/Jarnac Twinning Group went to Jarnac at the beginning of July to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of our twinning charter between Dalkeith and Jarnac. As you may know, plans were first made for a trip in 2020, but Covid-19 delayed our proposed visit until this summer. Jarnac is also twinned with Lautertal in Germany (40 years old), Donnacona in Canada (27 years old) and Dogliani in Italy (20 years old) so while we were there the town of Jarnac was full of visitors.

Our group consisted of Christine and Brian McPhillips, Maggie and Colin Dickson, Margaret and Sandy Howden and was also due to include Linda and Tom Matthewson, but unfortunately Linda and Tom had to cancel their trip a few days before their scheduled travel date due to Covid-19.

We all arrived separately by our own travel arrangements from Saturday 9th July to Tuesday 12th July when we were joined by new Midlothian Provost Debbi McCall, as well as Councilor Margot Russell, for the week long celebration which was full of events. Both were visiting Jarnac for the first time. Some of our party were staying with homestays and some of us were staying in local B&Bs/Gites.

Our first official event of the visit was a welcome drink on the evening of Wednesday July 13, the “welcome drink” at the village hall. It was an opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

On France’s national holiday, July 14 (known in the UK as Bastille Day), there was a full day of celebrations. The program began the morning the twinning charter was rededicated and signed by the Mayor of Jarnac, Mr Philippe Gesse, and the Provost of Midlothian, Debbi McCall, on the steps outside the town hall (seat of the town council). In addition to our 60th anniversary, the other twin towns of Jarnac celebrated their milestones that day and their representatives joined the Mayor of Jarnac on the steps of the Town Hall. Speeches were made by the mayor of Jarnac and the representatives of the other twinned towns and gifts were exchanged in front of a large crowd gathered to attend the debates. Provost Debbi McCall delivered her speech in French to much applause and appreciation. Country flags and the coats of arms of the 5 cities flew down the main streets and there were information boards and photos from the past featuring our twin cities.

After the ceremonies, a “friendship pot” (friendship drink) and hors d’oeuvres were served in the morning when the Charter of Twinning was rededicated and signed by the Mayor of Jarnac, Mr. Philippe Gesse, and the Provost of Midlothian, Debbi McCall, on the steps in front of the town hall (seat of the town council). In addition to our 60th anniversary, the other twin towns of Jarnac celebrated their milestones that day and their representatives joined the Mayor of Jarnac on the steps of the Town Hall. Speeches were made by the mayor of Jarnac and representatives of the other twin towns and gifts were shaded next to the town hall sheltered from the 36 degree Celsius heat. It was a great opportunity to relax with old friends and renew acquaintances.

Later in the afternoon, a barbecue picnic was organized for all visitors to the pairing. It was fortunately in the shade of the trees in the beautiful park of Jarnac on L’Ile Madame. Later in the evening of July 14, a community dinner took place on the main square of Jarnac, the Place du Château, then a fabulous night fireworks display (against a background of music from the countries of the twinned towns) closed the 14 July. .

On Friday 15th July we were taken by coach to Aubeterre sur Dronne for a morning tour of the historic town. Some of us took shelter in the cool as the temperature that day exceeded 38°C. A wonderful lunch was served to us in the Salle des Fêtes d’Aubeterre before visiting the underground monolithic church of Saint-Jean d’Aubeterre in the afternoon and then returning to Jarnac. Later in the evening we were also entertained by a fantastic sound and light show in the village of Bourg Charente telling the story of cognac, with a huge crowd from all over the region.

On the evening of Saturday July 16, the Official Evening in the village hall brought together 160 guests and entertainers. We were entertained by a wonderful group of musicians called “Les Copains du Musette” whose singer delighted us with her beautiful voice. They performed and sang through an eclectic mix of popular and traditional tunes and songs. In addition to dancing enthusiastically, many spectators joined in singing the songs they knew. After a delicious 7-course dinner prepared by Christophe Baudry, we enjoyed the speeches and the exchange of gifts from the twinning associations of all the twinned towns.

Dalkeith/Jarnac Twinning Group donated 3 beautiful engravings of historic buildings in Dalkeith by local artist Ron Lugg who allowed the Group to use his designs free of charge. The digital files of the drawings were taken to the Riccio Gallery in Dalkeith who enlarged the prints and produced them on giclée paper using giclée ink and mounted them in black frames. Carlo did a fantastic job and it caused a stir when they were unveiled in front of the crowd in the Salle des Fêtes. The small registration plates for the frames were manufactured by Apache Services at Tait Street, Dalkeith and fitted to each frame. The Matchmaking Group offered docks to each of the other 3 Matchmaking Association representatives and they were also provided by ApacheServices. Thus, the donations to the Jarnac Jumelage association and to the 3 other friendly twinned towns were all made by people/companies from Dalkeith. The President of the Dalkeith/Jarnac Twinning Group, Christine McPhillips, did a wonderful job of presenting the gifts, all made in Dalkeith, to our twinning friends at the Official Evening.

The Jarnac Twinning Committee also graciously offered a gift to each guest. All of our “farewells” were prepared at the end of a superb evening of music, dancing and gourmet delights. Friendships were cemented once again in this wonderful liaison with towns across Western Europe and Canada. A sincere “Thank you a thousand times” to the Mayor, the Twinning Committee and the inhabitants of Jarnac for having made our visit so pleasant. The concept of twin towns, I believe, deserves support and we hope that our relationship with Jarnac will continue for many years to come.


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