PRINCESS Anne chatted with residents of a new housing development which celebrates Coleford’s twinning links with France on an official visit to the Forest.

The Princess Royal visited St Hilaire Avenue and Sion Place before moving onto Cinderford for an engagement at the AccXel construction skills college.

Mayor of Coleford Cllr Nick Penny also introduced the Princess to members of Drybrook and Berry Hill rugby clubs who have been on exchanges to St Hilaire de Riez, the Coleford Community Choir who are set to perform there next month and members of the Coleford-St Hilaire Twinning Association.

Her Royal Highness unveiled a commemorative stone which was supplied by the Forest of Dean Stone Firms.

Monsieur Jean Marc Dubois, the Deputy Mayor for Culture and Heritage in Saint Hilaire de Riez and Madame Cecile Brasseur, a founder member of the Association Exchanges Franco Britanniques lifted a French Tricoleur to reveal the St Hilaire Avenue road sign.

The Princess was also entertained by a choir from Five Acres High School and students from the school presented her with a hamper of local Forest produce.

Marilyn Cox, Chair of the twinning committee said: “It was fitting for Cecile to be involved in the naming of these streets as she was in attendance at the planning meeting of the town council when the request for suggestions of street names was considered.”

Cllr Penn said: “Penny said: “The twinning between Coleford and Saint Hilaire de Riez is strong and productive and in just seven years we have already seen over 30 exchanges between the towns ranging from attendance at Civic and charity events, school exchanges, sporting and music tours.”

He added: “The twinning of our towns has brought strong personal friendships, with hardly a day passing when I don’t communicate with someone from Saint Hilaire.

“More importantly are the opportunities that it has given to our young people to experience the different cultures between the towns.

“This development is an asset to our town, bringing much-needed affordable housing and represents a significant investment by the Stantonbury Building and Development Company and Stonewater Housing.

“It has also been a strong boost for our local tradespeople with over 90 per cent of the trades employed on this site through Coleford-based Mike Etheridge Construction being residents of the Forest of Dean

The visit ended with the Coleford Community Choir singing the British and French national anthems.