On Sat 12 May, Pontefract Civic Society gave an official welcome at Pontefract Town Hall to 80 visitors from France, accompanied by their hosts from Selby. This was the culmination of months of planning between the group’s coordinator, Lizzie Cooper, and civic society Chair, Paul Cartwright.

The Selby-Carentan Twinning Association was founded in 1974, chaired by Sallie Lockwood, and the Association’s aim is to promote friendship between the residents of Selby and those in the French town of Carentan in Normandy, each year visits alternate between the two towns.

Paul Cartwright, civic society chair, said:

“We are really pleased that the committee in Selby had chosen Pontefract to feature as a special place of heritage across a very busy four day visit to Yorkshire. There are so many positive things to say about our past, though much had to be missed to allow time for bite-size chunks of English to be translated into French”.

“We are very proud of what we have, with our roots going beyond medieval times to the Anglo Saxon period, with Roman roads and settlements close by”.

The day commenced with a talk in the Nelson Room from Allan Blaza, followed by refreshments at St Giles Church, for which our French visitors offered praise to the scones baker. Two simultaneous heritage walks followed by the civic society and Pontefract Heritage Group, led by Jayne Poppleton, Heidi White and Paul Cartwright, which covered the town centre, Friarwood Valley Gardens and the St Richard’s Friary site. After lunch, their choices included a sneak preview of the new displays at Pontefract Museum, a dungeon tour at the Castle, or leisure time around the market, glimpsing at blue plaques along the way; most of the group opted for the Museum, and we were very thankful to Wakefield Council for making that possible.

The Selby Coordinator, Lizzie Cooper said:

“On behalf of the membership of the Selby/Carentan Town Twinning Association I would like to thank you, Paul, for making our day in Pontefract so very memorable; you really did pull out all the stops for us. English and French alike enjoyed themselves very much and all took home very positive memories of Pontefract. The talks were fascinating, and the ladies from Pontefract Heritage Group played a great part in making us feel so welcome. Thank you for masterminding the day so ably.”

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