Lytham St Annes is set to take a major step towards extending its European links.
As Prime Minister Theresa May continues to prepare the practicalities of Brexit, the Lytham St Annes Twinning Association is eager to encourage more entente cordiale.
Already twinned with Werne in Germany for more than 30 years, the Association has been keen for some time to add to its continental relationships and is to send a delation to Caudry in Northern France in March.
In the meantime, an exchange of photographs is taking place this month, with images of respective local landmarks to go on display at locations in St Annes and Lytham as well as Caudry’s cultural centre the Salon Des Arts in time for the delegation’s visit. The photographs, being supplied by members of the local Photographic Society as well as Association members, were suggested by the Lytham St Annes group as a way of developing an early link with a French town and Twinning Association chairman Tony Ford said: “This is very much a first step along the road to developing a link with a French town and they have embraced it wholeheartedly. I am hopeful that the photographs from Caudry will be on display in the town centres of both St Annes and Lytham – perhaps in the windows of empty shops to add some interest and colour locally.”
On Monday, members of the Twinning Association will be taking part in a joint event at St Margaret’s Parish Centre in St Annes with the town’s French Circle and Tony added: “I think twinning is all about getting to know and appreciate the people and cultures of other countries.
“Just because there is a media-driven clamour to protect our borders doesn’t mean we should be turning our back on other nations and societies.
“The LSA Twinning Association has long term plans to link - not necessarily twin – with many other countries.
“We are investigating the potential of linking with towns that are located on the same latitude and longitude as ourselves.
“Lytham St Annes High School and AKS have links across the world and twinning offers our young people an opportunity to extend their horizons.
“I have been involved in twinning since my teens, developing links with Colmar in France, formerly twinned with Hyde, my home town; Bad Bruckenau, twinned with Kirkham, as well as Werne, with which Lytham St Annes has been twinned for more than three decades, I have met some lovely people who have been open, welcoming and eager to share their cultures, their homes and their lives.
“For me Brexit implies that we are turning our back on our neighbours - I think we will come to regret it.
“We can certainly learn from other countries. Having looked at Caudry’s website. I can see activities and projects that might be relevant and worth investigating for the Fylde coast.
“Certainly with the commemoration of the end of the First World War in 2018 and Caudry’s close proximity to the battlefields and cemeteries then there is an opportunity to have a shared memory after all our countries were inextricably linked during the war years.”
Caudry, just over 100 miles south east of Calais and already twinned with the German town of Wedel, is renowned for its lace and embroidery and although the last factory closed some years ago it has since been turned into an attractive museum dedicated to the town’s industrial heritage and contemporary fashion.
The town has a British Cemetery which commemorates 700 First World War casualties, of whom more than 50 are unidentified. The cemetery also includes special memorials to four soldiers and one airman from the UK known to be buried among them.
Mayor of Caudry Guy Bricout, who will welcome the Lytham St Annes delegation in March, said: “We look forward to welcoming a party from Lytham St Annes and hope we can build a lasting relationship.”