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Throwback Thursday: Beccles Twinning Association travel to France to celebrate 13 years of friendship

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 June 2018

Tony Clarke's article covering Beccles Twinning Association's visit to Petit-Couronne in 1991. Photo: Archant.

Tony Clarke's article covering Beccles Twinning Association's visit to Petit-Couronne in 1991. Photo: Archant.

Archant

In Throwback Thursday Enjoy Beccles More takes a look back at some of the town's major stories and events from times gone-by.

This week we look back at Beccles Twinning Association’s 1991 trip to twin town Petit-Couronne.

The town recently celebrated 40 years of friendship with its French counterpart with a weekend of celebrations.

The article below first appeared in the Beccles and Bungay Journal on Friday, April 5.

An Easter weekend in France by Tony Clarke

Good sport, warm friendship and overwhelming hospitality were the ingredients of a memorable Easter weekend in France for more than 100 people from the Beccles area.

Their trip across the Channel was the latest of many successful exchanges in the 13 years of twinning between Beccles and Petit-Couronne.

More than 90 of the twinning travellers left Beccles by coach early on Friday morning, travelling by ferry via Ramsgate and Dunkirk to spend the weekend with families in Petit-Couronne.

During the weekend they were joined by more English people who travelled by car.

The Beccles party included an under-11s team from St Benet’s Wasps junior football club who had been invited to take part in a tournament.

Also enjoying the weekend in France were Mr Jim Jervis and his wife, Marlene, of Bungay.

A former town council chairman, Mr Jervis is a member of the steering committee which is looking into the possibility of setting up a Continental twinning link for Bungay.

On Saturday evening a reception and dance in the community centre was attended by about 400 people.

The visitors, including a football delegation from Portugal, were welcomed by the Mayor of Petit-Couronne, M. Gerard Letailleur.

Presentations made by M. Latilleur included a framed painting to the Mayor of Beccles, Mr Ken Cracknell, and a commemorative statue to the chairman of Beccles Twinning Association, Mr Tony Clarke.

Depicting an Olympic athlete, the statue is a miniature replica of one which stands outside the French town’s impressive swimming pool and leisure complex.

The Mayors of Petit-Couronne, Beccles and Villa Verde, the French town’s Portuguese twin, shared the task of cutting an enormous iced cake designed to illustrate the friendship through football weekend.

After a long evening of international celebration the young Beccles footballers took the field at the Shell oil refinery stadium the following morning for their first match in a tournament which included squads from the host club, from Villa Verde, and from other parts of France, including Paris.

Tired legs carried the English boys to a 0-0 draw, but in the afternoon they came up against a much bigger and more experienced team from the Paris area who inflicted on them their only defeat of the weekend.

Despite a couple of injuries the Beccles lads picked themselves up to win both their matches on Sunday without conceding a goal.

Loudly cheered on by their supporters – both French and English – the Beccles boys secured 3-0 and 1-0 victories.

It was St Benets Wasps’ first sortie into Continental Europe, and they returned with such unfamiliar chants of encouragement as “Allez Beccles” still ringing in their ears.

On Sunday afternoon tenpin bowling teams from Petit-Couronne and Beccles competed for the twinning competed for the twinning tray, a trophy given some years ago by the Beccles and Bungay Journal for friendly competition between the two towns during their annual exchanges.

As in previous contests, both in Beccles and Petit-Couronne, the hastily picked team members admitted to more enthusiasm than skill.

The home team won by 618 points to 561 thus keeping the trophy which had been taken to France after Beccles had won it last year in a balloon bursting and pea shooting contest.

Leaving Petit-Couronne on Monday afternoon the Beccles coach travellers arrived home in the early hours of Tuesday.

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