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Shaftesbury Town Twinning Association recently enjoyed a very successful visit from their twin town of Brionne in Normandy, boosted by beautiful sunny weather. After a first day with their host families, the visitors joined in with games of petanque and croquet at the football club, followed by a fish and chip supper provided for everyone by the Association. The atmosphere was a very happy one, especially as this year there were young people from both sides of the Channel participating in the weekend.

The following day the group went to Sturminster Newton and did a tour of the mill and looked round the Cheese Festival. Many of the French visitors were impressed by the British cheeses on display.

As an added bonus that evening, Shaftesbury choirmasters, Karen Wimhurst and David Grierson, had organised a splendid joint concert in a packed St Peter’s Church, featuring singers and musicians from both towns. The Shaftesbury Community Choir, the Ukulele Band and Palida performed, interspersed by contributions on the piano from three very talented Shaftesbury School pupils.

Shaftesbury Brionne twinning
The joint concert in St Peter’s Church.

Following the interval, the audience was treated to a stirring series of tunes from the Brionne orchestra, conducted by their director, Frédéric Marquer. Accompanied by the orchestra, Karen stepped in at the last minute to sing ‘The Rose’, made famous by Bette Midler, and later the two Shaftesbury choirs joined in with rousing renditions of ‘Armstrong’, a well-known French jazz song referring to Louis Armstrong, and ‘I Will Follow Him’, a song from the movie ‘Sister Act’.

There was a standing ovation at the end as the audience showed their appreciation for all the work that had gone into the making of music, by email and with only one rehearsal, in a spirit of joy and friendship between the two towns.

When it came time for the visitors to leave, they seemed very reluctant to climb into the coach and bid a final ‘adieu’. There are already ideas afoot for a return visit to Brionne next year, which may well include another concert.

If you would like more information about the Shaftesbury Town Twinning Association, contact Roy Mitchell at roymitchell53@btinternet.com

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