Town Twinning honoured with special events in France, Leighton Buzzard, and Heath and Reach

Leighton-Linslade celebrated its Twinning scheme with a number of special exchange visits, honouring more than half a century of cross-channel links.

The town has been linked with Coulommiers in France since 1958, with the initiative aiming to build relationships following World War Two.

Following this, in 1971, German town Titisee-Neaustadt became twinned with Coulommiers, and the relationship was extended to Leighton-Linslade in 1991.

Leighton-Linslade Town Councillor, David Bowater, paid a special visit to France to celebrate the bond.

Left: Dinner at The Dukes. Right: The planting of the Jubilee tree with Mayor Cllr Kharawala, Mayor Folkerts of Titisee - Neustadt, and Cllr Andreea Piciorus. Images: Sarah Nelson/Nigel Strofton.

Journalist Klaus Hör told the LBO: "The Franco-German town twinning between Titisee-Neustadt and Coulommiers, which has existed for 50 years, was celebrated a year late at the cheese fair.

"A memorial stone was finally officially unveiled to commemorate the mutual friendship with the English Leighton-Linslade.

"Due to the pandemic, a small delegation from Titisee-Neustadt with Mayor Meike Folkerts and former Mayor Martin Lindler as well as Karin Katz-Hör and Karin Spannagel from the partnership association traveled to Coulommiers with their partners.

"Mayor Laurence Picard welcomed the guests and commented on the stone with the distances of the sister cities, saying that it is: 'A symbol of the partnership, strong and long-lasting'."

The Town Twinning ceremony in France.

The ceremony featured the Municipal Orchestra of Coulommiers, which included the three national

anthems and the European anthem.

Cllr Bowater said: "We are all European citizens and we work together".

Klaus added: "Everyone emphasised that the terrible events in Ukraine made the need for solidarity particularly clear. Mayor Folkerts also spoke of the need to work together for a future without war and violence."

Dinner at The Dukes. Image: Sarah Nelson.

Following this, the festivities continued in Leighton Buzzard, when the town welcomed special guests for the Jubilee.

A LLTC spokesman said: "The town started its celebrations by joining in with the national beacon lighting celebrations on the Thursday evening.

"The honour of lighting the ceremonial beacon was shared between Town Mayor Farzana Kharawala, Mayor Meike Folkerts of Titisee-Neustadt, and Michele Kit, Municipal Councillor delegate for General Affairs, Twinning and Patriotic Life, Coulommiers.”

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The Town Twinning ceremony in France. (Cllr Bowater pictured far left.)

During the Jubilee weekend, the guests were also invited to a special meal at popular Heath and Reach pub The Dukes, which laid on a slap-up feast for more than two dozen members of the town twinning group, including the Cllr Kharawala, Mayor Folkerts and Councillor Kit.

Dukes managing director, Sarah Nelson, presided over a "quintessentially English" three-course dinner on a table laid with fresh purple flowers entwined with silver ribbon, and flags from Germany and France with the Union Jack.

Sarah said: “We were delighted to host the event which began with drinks on the patio followed by three traditional courses starting with the Dukes English salad.

"The main course was a good old fashioned roast chicken & stuffing with roast potatoes, British seasonal vegetables and a Yorkshire pudding. For dessert Eton mess was enjoyed by all."

She added: “Even after Brexit, our relationships with Europe are still very important, and we hope the delegates had a great time here, we think it was the perfect venue for our visitors from France and Germany.”

As a special honour, Councillor Kharawala, Mayor Folkerts, and Cllr Andreea Piciorus planted a tree on the green in Heath and Reach to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee.

Its brass plate reads: "This Weeping Birch tree was planted to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's

Platinum Jubilee. June 2022."