“LONG live twinning.” This sentence, repeated with enthusiasm, with accents from both sides of the Channel, resounded in the town hall of Gouzeaucourt, France in May.

About 20 councillors and members of the Twinning Association in Worcester (in their own homes) were connected virtually with a dozen councillors meeting in Gouzeaucourt town hall for a celebration of their twinning which started in 2014.

But this time, in spite of not being able to meet in person, the ceremony had a special significance, because the twinning, which had been temporary, became permanent.

Links between the two towns, of vastly different sizes (Worcester’s 100,000 inhabitants, compared with Gouzeaucourt’s 1,600), started after the First World War.

At that time, 80 British towns adopted French towns to help them rebuild, and this northern French community was adopted by Worcester. The Mayor, Jacques Richard, reminded us: “You became our wartime godmother in 1921. The village was completely destroyed in 1917, and you helped with the rebuilding. We will not forget your help.”

Almost a century later, the two towns engaged in a temporary twinning. In 2017, the centenary of the Battle of Cambrai, Gouzeaucourt hosted a group from Worcester.

Jacques Richard recalled: “Worcester Male Voice Choir came to sing in our church. It was magnificent”.

After this, we had to content ourselves with virtual meetings but, despite this, they did not lack warmth.

At the recent ceremony, the speeches in two languages expressed warm feelings, and were fluently translated by Rosemary Campbell, vice-chair of Worcester Twinning Association.

Cllr Jo Hodges, Mayor of Worcester at the time of the ceremony, hoped to be able to visit Gouzeaucourt in the near future.

Until then, the two towns are already working on a link between two of their schools, illustrating the wish, expressed by the two mayors of a “long and fruitful” friendship.

If you want to know more about Worcester Twinning, visit us at worcestertwinning.org.uk