Since 1979, the village of Stapleford in Cambridgeshire has been twinned with Villedômer, a village in the Loire valley of France.
At the Parish Council meeting in September, John King raised the idea of twinning Stapleford with a suitable partner on the continent. The council decided to try to twin with either a community in Holland or France. A sub-committee was formed with John King as chairman, Joan Barnes and Terry Miller as members. Details of Stapleford were sent to the Joint Twinning Committee for forwarding to their counterparts on the continent.
Unfortunately, no community was available for twinning in Holland, but three candidates were proposed in France. These were Greoux-les-Bains in Provence, Marallac in the central region and Villedômer near Tours. The sub-committee thought that Villedômer was the most similar to Stapleford and the most suitable.
Visits were made to all three towns over the summer of 1978 by Mr & Mrs Harold Holt, and others, as a result of which the Twinning Sub-committee recommended to the Parish Council (chairman Travis Chalk), that Villedômer should be approached to see if they still wanted to proceed with a Twinning agreement.
Twinning Charters were drawn up in May and as the village had no coat of arms it was agreed to incorporate the village sign. The Charter was translated into French. The ceremony to officially establish the Twinning with Villedômer was recorded as follows:
Inauguration of the Twinning between Stapleford and Villedômer
On Saturday July 14th, Stapleford was officially twinned with Villedômer, near Tours, in France.
A ceremony was held at the Stapleford Village sign which was decorated with the French and British flags. An opening speech welcoming the visitors from Villedômer and outlining the twinning project was given by the Chairman of the Parish Council. The lady mayor of Villedômer did the honour of replying with a speech in English. Sir Frederick Catherwood, Cambridgeshire’s representative at the European Assembly said a few words on the value of links with other countries. After the speeches a Charter was signed to formalise the agreement of friendship between the two communities. The Charter was signed for Villedômer by Mme Renée Poiget, the mayor and M Daniel Lamazière, the chairman of the Villedômer twinning committee. Mr Travers Chalk the chairman of Stapleford Parish Council and Mr John King the chairman of the Stapleford Twinning Committee. The St. Andrew’s Hand bell ringers then played both national anthems. The church bells rang a quarter peel while everybody drank to the success of the twinning with a local wine supplied by the visitors from Villedômer. Twenty six visitors came by coach from Villedômer for the weekend and were accommodated in homes within the village. During the weekend they enjoyed a Barn Dance, a Village Concert and an open air lunch all provided by the Stapleford Gala and Flower Show committees. They had a guided tour of Cambridge as well as joining in the general festivities of Stapleford’s Gala Day.
A return ceremony will be held at Villedômer on August 26th and a coach party from Stapleford will be travelling to France for the occasion.
Regular visits have been made ever since: a Family Visit to Villedômer one year over a long weekend – usually in May/June, reciprocated in Stapleford the next; a Youth Exchange for youngsters aged between 11-16 every year, usually in August, with participants spending about 4 days in each country.
The Villedômer Garden was formed when the Parish Council named the land behind the Slaughterhouse after Villedômer. It was planted as a Rose Garden in memory of Peggy Holt, who was a great believer in the Twinning movement. Donations of £116 were collected towards it in her memory. Plaques were put in place the following year.
In November, the Twinning Association became a freestanding Association, independent of the Parish Council.
On 3rd June, the Time Capsule was buried in the Villedômer Garden with a copy of the Twinning charter, a resumé of a youth and adult visit, a twinning badge and contributions from Villedômer.
This year is the fortieth anniversary of the granting of a charter to the Stapleford Twinning Association.