Jubilee Weekend – June 1st - 5th 2012
Friday, June 1st
The Mayor of Privas, Yves Chastan, along with his wife, Annie, and Councillor with responsibility for twinning, Yvonne Sauzon, were due into Leeds/Bradford airport from Paris at 11.30 am. In the event, the flight was delayed and they eventually touched down just after noon. They were whisked off to Wetherby by WTA Chairman Cindy Bentley and lunch at the Muse with former Chairman, Doug Masterton . The fish, chips and mushy peas washed down with cider seemed to go down a treat. Lunch was followed by a visit to the Town Hall where the 3 visitors met Town Clerk, Barbara Ball, and had a sneak preview of the exhibition of photos, portraying Wetherby through the 60 years of the Queen’s reign.
The exhibition included a board devoted to Privas through the ages, kindly put together by Madame Sauzon with help from colleagues at the Town Hall in Privas. After a leisurely walk round Wetherby, Madame Sauzon was met by her host family and driven off to Collingham while the Chastans were driven to the Bridge Hotel to settle in and freshen up.
Cindy then drove off to York where the remaining 17 members of the group were due to arrive by train from London. The community mini-bus driven by Neil O’Byrne was also waiting for the visitors with an estate car driven by Paul Martin to take their luggage. A couple of host families were there in person to greet their visitors. Unlike the flight, the train was on time and the group quickly got off and were shepherded on and off lifts to get to the exit. The minibus drove to the Police Station yard in Wetherby where the remaining host families were waiting. Families had made their own arrangements for the evening, but Jeremy and Martine Burton had very kindly invited the Chastans, Francois and Claudine Briffotaux and Yvonne Sauzon to dinner, along with the Bentleys and the Association President, Bernard Atha. It was a most convivial evening and a wonderful introduction to Wetherby for our guests.
Saturday, June 2nd
The first day of the official celebrations dawned cloudy, but dry. Sighs of relief all round! The Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Dr. Ingrid Roscoe, had very kindly agreed to attend the launch ceremony and welcome reception for our visitors. She arrived promptly at 10.00 am and was greeted by Town Mayor, Cindy Bentley, Deputy Lord-Lieutenant and French Consul, Jeremy Burton and Privas Mayor, Yves Chastan. She spent half an hour in the exhibition – which by now included the most beautiful and creative floral decorations by the members of Wetherby Flower Club.
The Jubilee Celebrations were launched at 10.30, followed by a welcome to the Privas visitors. The Chastans were presented with buttonholes of Yorkshire roses by Oliver Hobbs and the Silver Band delighted everyone with a brilliant rendering of the Marseillaise. Students from Wetherby High School and Deighton Gates School entertained everyone with some very spirited singing. Members of the Twinning Association and guests then adjourned to the Bramham room for the official Civic Reception, which was attended by over 70 people.
Speeches by Cindy Bentley, Yves Chastan, Doug Masterton and Francois Briffotaux were followed by the presentation of gifts. Wetherby Town Council presented the Mayor with a classic Dartington Glass bowl engraved with the Royal Coat of Arms and the date of the Diamond Jubilee. He, in turn, presented two books on the history of Privas and a medal . A birthday cake, marking the 20th anniversary of the twinning of our two towns, was cut by the two Mayors and guests were then invited to help themselves to a wonderful buffet, which included local specialities from the Ardeche.
The remainder of the day was free for host families to show their visitors the delights of Yorkshire. The mayoral party went over to Jubilee Gardens to greet the Deputy Lord-Lieutenant and visit an exhibition organised by the Young Offenders Institution in Wetherby – which included a display of owls and other birds of prey. Lunch followed at Sant Angelo’s and then a visit to the Lions’ Beer Festival – where Black Sheep proved a real winner. A visit to the Battle of the Bands competition was cut short due to the cold. Dinner was booked at the Bridge Hotel , followed by an early night!
Sunday, June 3rd
What a miserable start to the day! Pouring rain and an abysmal forecast for the rest of the day which was due to start with an open-air ecumenical service in the Market Place, followed by a mammoth street party. In the event, plans were hurriedly changed and the service was held in a packed ballroom, with people spilling into the Tempo FM temporary studio and onto the stairs.
Following the service, 5 different bands entertained the hardy souls who had ventured out in the rain and the planned picnic for our visitors was held in the ballroom Several families then left to do their own thing and Neil O’Byrne and Barbara Harpham took the others in the minibus for a trip to York.
The official dinner was held in the evening at the Bridge Hotel and guests started assembling for drinks around 7.15 pm. The dinner was excellent – with the exception of the Yorkshire curd tart which was most definitely not as described. It was subsequently explained that the chef was from Roumania, so probably didn’t know what true Yorkshire curd is (he does now because the Chairman presented him with one the following week!). Elaine McGill made a very touching speech and explained that she was presenting the Association with a Challenge Trophy in memory of her husband and dedicated twinner, John. There will be a darts match the next time we visit Privas and a boules competition the next time they visit Wetherby – the winner will be awarded the Trophy to hold for 2 years. Cindy Bentley presented the Privas Twinning Association with the Debretts book on the Queen, as a memento of their visit. Individuals were given a Diamond Jubilee bag containing a china mug and teatowel. Following the formalities, everyone danced the night away to a very good disco.
Monday, June 4th
Huge relief when the day dawned fine and dry. Unfortunately, the Chastans and Madame Sauzon were unable to stay longer and were taken to the airport for their flight to Paris. Cindy Bentley and Claudine Briffotaux arrived in the Market Place at 9.30 to take their seats in Nick Hopkinson’s vintage Citroen DS which was to lead the procession of decorated bicycles through the town to the Ings . Once on the Ings, the entrants were divided into age groups and each group in turn paraded round the ring, Cindy and Claudine judging the best in each group. A really difficult task because so many people had obviously spent so much time and thought on their entry. Wetherby Sports Association had then organised a childrens’ sports day with the traditional races – egg and spoon, sack, 3-legged etc. plus lots of stalls and other attractions.
The evening was to be the showcase event for the weekend – an open air Last Night of the Proms with the Leeds Symphony Orchestra down on the Ings. This was preceded by supper in the Sports Association building. It was a real fun evening and must have been quite a surprise to the French, particularly the singing of Jerusalem, the flag waving and the firework finale. Although it was somewhat chilly, the rain held off.
Tuesday, June 5th
The party left York station for Kings Cross at noon. Hopefully, a good time was had by all and the memory of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations combined with the 20th anniversary of our twinning link will remain with our visitors for many years to come.