Who are we?
The association was formed in 1990 to promote twinning links between the Oxfordshire village of Uffington and Le Chevain, a dormitory village of Alencon in the Normandy area of France - approximately 1.5 hours due south of the port of Ouistreham (Caen).
Membership is open to all residents of UBW.
With the educational benefits of twinning firmly in mind, participation of families with young children is actively encouraged, as are links between the primary schools in the two villages. To further encourage these links, the Association was pleased to provide start-up funding for Le Club Français at Uffington School.
Normally, one group visit will be organised each year, with the host village alternating each year.
A typical visit involves 24 to 48 hours with hosts, this time being divided between group activities (e.g. organised outings) and time 'en famille'. Visits generally have no civic content, the focus instead being very much on friendship between participating families and individuals.
The cost to participants of visits to Le Chevain is limited to transport (i.e. coach, ferry, cabins etc.).
When we host French visitors, the Association underwrites (from fund raising and grants) the cost of entertaining visitors. The cost to hosting families is thus limited to accommodation costs (including any meals) and the cost of their own participation in any group activities - always notified in advance.
Spending time with a family from another country is both educational and fun. If our experiences are anything to go, French hospitality is incredible - even if it is not necessarily good for the liver!
When organising visits, care is taken to match families as closely as possible - ages, children etc. Reciprocal hospitality on return visits is common but neither obligatory not rigid - some families stay linked to their French counterparts for years, others prefer variety.
Hosting involves meeting the family on arrival, guiding them through any activities organised for the visit and, of course, accommodating and feeding them whilst in your home. It is common for 2 or 3 families to get together - with their guests - for meals or drinks. This can help with any language issues and affords the visitors the opportunity to see other homes in the village.
This is always the first issue raised by prospective twinners.
Experience shows that this is far less of a problem than might be imagined. Care is taken is ensure that families are matched in this regard - for example, no totally non-French speaking English family would be placed with a totally non-English speaking French host.
In practice, most families have a little linguistic ability between them and the rest is down to Franglais!
Funding for the Association's activities is derived from two sources - fund raising and grants.
The Association typically arranges several fund raising events each year. These have included barbecues, wine tastings, safari suppers and the ever-popular quiz night. In addition to raising
funds, these events provide an opportunity for twinning participants - many of whom will otherwise have little contact with each other between visits - to get together socially on 'home
The Vale of White Horse District Council recognises the contribution that twinning links between towns and villages in the Vale and communities abroad makes to the cultural, social, educational and economic lives of its residents. Present VWHDC policy is to assist this activity with modest grants awarded to formally constituted twinning organisations that run community twinning. Twinning organisations are required to observe strict rules regarding the use of these grants and to account annually. The UTA gratefully acknowledges this assistance.
For further information contact Eric Wyard on 01367 820647.