A reception was held in Dingestow for the visit of Monmouth’s twin-town residents of Carbonne.

John Wheelock welcomed the French visitors to the historic home of Treowen, with his wife Jane Harvey giving the translation in French!

Present were the mayor and deputy mayor of Monmouth, Councillors Tom Kirton and David Evans, alongside their counterparts from Carbonne, M. Denis Turrel and M. Rémi Ramond.

The parties exchanges gifts from their home town
(Des Pugh)

The twinning charter was signed in 1975 in Monmouth by Guy Hellé and Christian Lacombe,  then president of the French Twinning Association and Roger Smith, the then mayor of Monmouth.

John’s family bought the 17 century property in 1954, prior to that it had been used as a farmhouse from the 1670s to the 1940s.

He and his brother Dick, inherited the house in the 1990s and it’s now used for self-catering holidays and as a wedding venue.

It was then the turn of Peter and Marilyn Jones to provide a dual-language welcome for the visiting French guests.

He told the assembled twinning members that their presence was a great honour for the Monmouth Twinning Association “and for our town council represented here by the mayor and deputy mayor of Monmouth .

“We must thank John and Dick Wheelock for inviting us to their magnificent historic manor house for this evening's event and we must also thank association member and wine merchant Tom Innes of Fingal Rock in Monmouth for recommending and supplying the Crémant de Bourgogne for our toast.

“It's five years since the ‘Carbonnais’ last visited Monmouth and 18 months since our last visit to Carbonne.

“We are absolutely delighted to be together again. This Vin d’honneur is an event which underlines the deep friendship between our towns which have been twinned since 1975.

“Monmouth is very proud of this twinning which has lasted such a long time and which has enriched our two towns for the past 49 years.

“During these years people had many exchanges which have had been cultural, social, scholastic, linguistic, sporting and musical.

“Next year will be our 50th anniversary - half a century of twinning.

“It's marvellous that twinning helps to create friendly links between people from two different countries so that we can learn to understand and appreciate the differences between us.

“These differences are very enriching because they help us evaluate our own culture and at the same time show us how to live in a different way.

“As they say in France ‘Vive la différence et Vive le Jumelage!”

In reply M. Denis Turrel, the Mayor of Carbonne said that twinning is a “concrete way to promote cooperation and international friendship and to create bridges between cultures on a larger scale.

“Thanks to cultural sporting and education exchanges, Carbonne has built strong links with three towns Monmouth,  Galleria Veneta in Italy and Korschenbroich in Germany.

“Over the years we did try to bring the inhabitants of our towns closer together thanks to joint projects and individual exchanges including football,  this fraternity is based on our histories and in the succession of mayors, twinning committees and volunteers of our both cities.

“Friendship, fraternity, mutual aid - these three words were the words that we wanted to give concrete meaning to in 1975 when we started our twinning.

“It is the same ideal that we share today with as much strength as ever and that is why it is a great pleasure for us to be welcomed in Monmouth,” he added.

The visitors have gone home now but enjoyed a series of events which included a visit to the Hereford Cider Museum, Hereford Cathedral and Nantgarw Pottery near Cardiff.