Polly Fothergill reports on the 2014 CCT Visit to Vierzon
2014 saw another invitation to attend the annual waterside meeting and celebration “de Biefs en Ecluses” (from pounds to locks) with our Friends in France.
Four Francophiles from the Cotswolds
This year two new Cotswold Canals Trust Francophiles, Keith and Cathy Tibbitts, joined Polly & Neil Fothergill at ARECABE's annual event in Vierzon.
The four Cotswold Canals Trust delegates were hosted by Andre Barre (President) and Madeleine Thonniet (Secretaire) from ARECABE (Association pour la Reouverture du Canal de Berry).
"Much information, general friendship and conversation was enjoyed and exchanged" explains Polly.
Passionate speeches & presentations
The formal part of the annual meeting included updates and passionate speeches from the various local elected politicians, water authorities and restoration enthusiasts.
Andre and Madeleine were presented with Cotswold Canals Trust keyrings.
Keith Tibbitts addressed the meeting in French with a detailed explanation of the Dudbridge Hydro Scheme.
Keith's presentation sparked a serious amount of renewed inspiration, enthusiasm and questions from the audience.
Wine, food, water & history
The weekend continued with a complimentary glass of wine for everyone on the bankside after the “colloque” (meeting) and before the lunch; all provided by the town of Vierzon. The group also enjoyed boat trips, canoeing and a guided tour of the town.
"We enjoyed a wonderfully friendly welcome. Did you know that Jeanne d’Arc actually lived in Vierzon? We were shown her house.
"What really continues to impress our Friends in France is the sheer amount and quality of volunteer skill, energy and resource that we are so fortunate to have here in the Cotswolds."
The CCT group found that in France, as in the UK, the recent recession has had adverse affects on funding. ARECABE are dealing with increased demands on public spending priorities alongside ever escalating costs and mandates in relation to environmental protection matters.
Polly comments… "The CCT visits to Vierzon, and ARECABE's return visits to UK, are an example of sharing community knowledge and cultural exchange. This helps to open minds, facilitates fresh thinking on ways of working while refreshing and inspiring enthusiasm."
Click on the photos to view larger versions
Find out more about our Friends in France
Click here or on the poster above to read an explanation in English of ARECABE's aims & objectives
Click here to read more about the formation of the Information Exchange Agreement between CCT and ARECABE
Click here or on the icon below to visit the ARECABE website
Would you like to be involved in the Information Exchange Agreement?
Click here to email Polly Fothergill if you are CCT member willing share volunteering experiences on further exchange visits… especially if you can speak a little French!