Unlike most twinnings including Warrington's with Hilden, Nachod etc., the link between Lymm and Meung-sur-Loire is not an official "municipal" link managed by the Council and funded by local taxpayers, but a voluntary association of friends in and around the two towns.
In 1967 a group of Anglophiles in the small Loire Valley town of Meung conceived the idea of a "twinning" and set up a committee to pursue it. One of the committee members, Monsieur Jean Brun, was at the time attached to the U.S.A.F. base at Burtonwood near Warrington. One Sunday, his committee having already rejected a possible link with Bude in Cornwall, he drove out to the far side of Warrington and stopped for a leisurely pint at the Spread Eagle in Lymm. By chance a young local, one Peter Dixon, was at the bar and soon the two were in conversation since Peter was a Francophile and spoke the language.
By the Spring of 1968 a public meeting arranged by the then Lymm Urban District Council was well attended by Councilors representatives of local organisations and members of the public. They were given an outline of the town of Meung-sur-Loire and its Twinning Committee, following which there was unanimous support for the idea of a link and a steering committee was set up.
At Easter 1969 the first of many groups of pupils from Lymm Grammar School, led by George Hunnam, Head of Modern Languages, and his successor Peter Birchall, spent two weeks camping in Meung where the local Secretary, Flora Thoma, arranged for each of the ten boys and two teachers to be hosted for dinner by a different family on each of the ten evenings of their visit. In this way, they thus became the first of many to experience generous Magdunois hospitality.
Annual exchanges of 40 to 50 French and English pupils from the Grammar and High Schools continued for over 25 years until the expansion and enthusiasm of the 11 to 18 Lymm H.S. outgrew the resources of the 11 to 16 Collège de Meung. So Lymm, now a Language College, was forced to link with a larger Lycée. Along the way many lifetime friendships were forged, including one marriage between a Lymm girl, Margaret Burgess, and a young doctor from Meung, Henri Destouches.
Since 1972 there have been biennial visits to Lymm or Meung alternately, with 40 to 50 "Twinners" being hosted by families over four or five days.
Throughout the Society's 49 years of activity, its aim has been the simply stated but grand notion of promoting international friendship and understanding through personal contact, exchange and social activity. Over the years English and French have got to know one another, corresponded and enjoyed each other's company and hospitality, and maybe gained a working command of the others' language. The highlights of each twinning visit have been a reception dinner-dance and a full day's joint excursion.
For the most part the Society raises its own funds, from members and friends, through a series of events and activities throughout each year, including French meals, a barbecue, talks, wine-tastings, theatre trips and so on.
The Twin Town Society is active and in good heart, but has undoubtedly suffered a little through the loss of the link between the two secondary schools, for this is where many friendships were created. We would dearly love to introduce more younger families to the pleasures of "twinning". Have you ever thought that one of the most rewarding, and certainly the cheapest, ways of experiencing life in the beautiful Loire Valley is to swap house for a couple of weeks with a family you've come to know and like? Many "twinners" have done just that.