How Welwyn Anglo-French Twinning Began


It all began with a school visit.

In 1971, a party of 27 children and three teachers from St Mary’s School, Welwyn, led by the then Headmaster, Kit Trevena spent eight days in Champagne-sur-Oise. They stayed in Montrognon, a mansion in parkland on the outskirts of the village. During this period they spent time with the French children in their school learning about each others’ countries. Headmistress of the school was Marcelle Candoni, wife of the then mayor, Lydis Candoni. They were very impressed with the Welwyn children and M Candoni approached Mr Trevena to consider the possibility of twinning the two villages.

Kit Trevena worked hard on his return to Welwyn, gaining the support of Welwyn Parish Council, several of his fellow teachers and other prominent Welwyn people. He also asked Philip Maidment, then Clerk of the Council, if he would be prepared to visit Champagne as a representative of Welwyn. This visit duly took place in June 1972. Philip was accompanied by his wife Audrey and, at the same time, a further school trip took place. The Mayor and Mme Candoni, with four members of the Champagne-sur-Oise Comité de Jumelage, visited Welwyn in return, just a few days later in the July. Both these events, in France and in England, were memorable happy occasions with suitable official receptions, dinners and displays.

Finally, the following summer in June 1973, in addition to the annual school party, the people of Champagne-sur-Oise welcomed about 30 other people from Welwyn into their homes. The Twinning was under way!

Events of 23 June 1973

Inauguration of Rue de Welwyn 1973 Signing the WAFTA Twinning Oath 1973

The twinning oath (serment de jumelage) was read and signed with much ceremony outside the Mairie on Saturday, 23 June 1973, a brilliant sunny day.

Champagne-sur-Oise was the first community in the départment of Val d’Oise to twin and there was much local interest. The event was even covered by French television. M Lydis Candoni, as mayor, signed on behalf of Champagne and Mr Philip Maidment signed on behalf of Welwyn, in the presence of M Poniatowski, Minister of Health and Social Security, representing the French Government, M Bourgin, Prefect of Val d’Oise, the President of the Conseil Général, local mayors, a host of other dignitaries and a large crowd.

Following the ceremony, the traffic in Champagne was halted and the assembled crowd, led by the town band, majorettes, fire brigade, officials and the English and French children, processed to Rue de Welwyn for its inauguration, then on to the municipal park for its official opening. Celebrations continued well into the night.

Majorettes at Welwyn Anglo-French Twinning Inaguration 1973 Procession to Rue de Welwyn 1973 Singing the National Anthems at Welwyn Anglo-French Twinning Inaguration 1973