The Auld Alliance is flourishing in the 21st century after the long-awaited twinning of the towns of Newton Stewart and the Parisian suburb of Marcoussis last weekend.
Meta Maltman from the twinning committee on this side of the channel was delighted with how well the party from Marcousiss was received in the area.
She said: “I’m pleased it all went very well as this was the first twinning under the banner of Dumfries and Galloway Council. We started on the Friday morning with a tour of Wigtown Primary School where the older pupils set up French cafe where they greeted our guest and took their orders – all in French! This was such a hit with our guests that the Mayor of Marcoussis two sons decided to stay on and play with the schoolchildren rather than go round the town with the rest of the party.
“After than it was on to Penninghame Primary School where the visitors were entertained by a phenomenal Scottish-themed concert put on by the children. I think every pupil at the school must have been on the stage! The children were also keen to meet the guests and interact with them.
“Then it was down the street butcher Kenny Owen had organised a tasting session in his shop and there was also a whisky tasting at the Belted Galloway arranged by Gordon Andrews. Later than evening we held a civic reception in the McMillan Hall with a buffet organised by DGFirst chaired by Mid Galloway Area Committee chairman Jim McClung. After various speeches, Newton Stewart was presented with a banner and an engraved plaque from Marcoussis and, in return, we presented with an engraved quaich by Cree Valley Community Council. Dumfries and Galloway Council presented both towns with and engraved vase.
“On Saturday the party travelled to Dumfries to the Robert Burns Centre, but on the way called in to the Gem Rock Museum in Creetown where senior girls from the Douglas Ewart High School acted as tour guides.
“After their visit to Dumfries the hosts and their guests had a meal in the Bruce Hotel and they left for home on the Sunday.
“The next plan is for a delegation from Newton Stewart to visit Marcoussis. The only thing I would say that we could do with a bigger pool of volunteers willing to help out with the hosting in future.”
Galloway MSP Alex fergusson said: “The formalisation of the twinning agreement between Newton Stewart and Marcoussis last Friday was an event that was full of optimism and hope. Twinning presents a fantastic opportunity for the two communities involved to learn from each other’s shared experiences and to help the education of children and young people way beyond the limitations of the classroom. Judging by the enthusiasm of both the French and the Scots that was on display last Friday, this is going to prove to be a most successful collaboration.”
South of Scotland MSP Aileen McLeod, who tabled a motion in Parliament to mark the visit, said: “Friday night’s reception was a great success and the warm Galloway welcome that the French guests received was an example of this region at its very best. I know that a great deal of hard work has been done over the past few years to get to this point and it is tribute to the efforts of the Newton Stewart and District Town Twinning Association that we have seen everything now come to fruition.
“Special thanks must go to members of the Association and in particular to its Chairman, Meta Maltman, who has been a real champion of the twinning process. It was also great to have the chance to meet with some of the delegation from Marcoussis whom I had last met during their previous visit to Newton Stewart in May 2011.
“Twinning is of course about much more than having a new road sign. It can open up fantastic education, cultural, economic, trade and lots of other opportunities for both partners. It helps to build links between us and our European neighbours and encourages young people in particular to have broad horizons and be ambitious.
“I very much hope that last week’s visit is the start of a long and fruitful relationship and friendship between Newton Stewart and Marcoussis, and one which will be a lasting success.”