A small but select group gathered in the Town Hall Atrium on January 24th for an enjoyable evening, which included the usual refreshments provided by members of the committee, a raffle and the opportunity to talk to fellow members about past and future events. Whilst those present seemed to enjoy the evening, numbers were disappointingly lower than in previous years.
The committee is wondering whether to change the venue or format of the event, or whether another type of event would be preferred. We would be grateful to hear views from members about this.
The Association was very pleased to welcome two members of the Epsom,& Ewell Model Railway Club and to hear how well their contacts with the Chantilly Club had developed. On a recent visit they had been presented with a small plaque by the Mayor of Chantilly in recognition of their contribution to twinning. They described how the Chantilly group was working on a model based on an old Chantilly station which was used specifically for race-goers. It is hoped that they will be able to exhibit this at the regular event at Nescot next year. It is not clear whether they will also attend this year's exhibition which is scheduled for 26th and 27th April from l0 am each day until 6pm on Saturday and 5pm on Sunday.
The Annual General Meeting of the Epsom & Ewell Town-Twinning Association will take place on Monday 23rd June at 7.30pm in the Town Hall. Please make a note in your diaries now to attend the AGM, and take the opportunity to influence how the Association might develop in future. Please also think what contribution you might be able to make to its running, and be ready with ideas for events and activities.
Official notice of the AGM will be circulated in due course. Wine and nibbles will be served from 7.15pm.
The Mayor's Grand Charity Ball takes place on Saturday 12th April at the Queen's Stand, Epsom Downs with a 7.OOpm for 7.30pm start time. Dress is either Black Tie or Lounge suits and tickets are priced ^b5 per person. This will include full dinner and reception, plus top class entertainment, dancing until midnight and lots of exciting prizes to be won!
To book your tickets, please contact Carol Caiger at the Town Hall, by email on firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone 01372 732100. Credit card bookings can be made via the Epsom Playhouse box office for a small extra charge. If anyone would like to offer prizes, practical help or sponsorship of any kind too, please let Carol know. The Mayor's charities this year are Alzheimer's Society, Stroke Association, and SAVI (Surrey Association for the Visually Impaired).
For the Members' dinner on 12t" February, the Association visited a new venue, the South Hatch restaurant on Burgh Heath Road, Epsom. This is a lovely location overlooking the Downs, and staff gave us a warm welcome. We numbered 14 this time and enjoyed an excellent dinner together, while the evening was quite informal and friendly.
After dinner, Diana reported to us on the ceremony held at the Mairie in Chantilly the week before, when she and Mary attended the presentation of the award of the Legion d`Honneur to Monsieur Fernand Rigola.
The next Members' dinner is scheduled for Tuesday 8th April, when we will return to the Epsom Club in Church Street, Epsom, and the timing as usual is 7.00 pm for 7.30pm. Do please contact me to book your place, and I will have the menu shortly. However, we do want to consider other venues as well, so please let me know if you have a new restaurant to suggest, especially if it has a French or a racing theme. Email margaret @epsomtwinning
Margaret Nightingale, Membership Secretary
Brian Angus arranged a very entertaining trip to the West Country and back, all within a day on 15th March, raising around £800 for the Mayor's charities. As well as supporting good causes, this was a great opportunity for those who are passionate about history and archaeology.
Epsom Coaches provided a very luxurious coach for the event, and also made a substantial donation. Breakfast on the coach consisted of bacon baps followed by cake, biscuits and Easter eggs - a good start to the day!
At Durrington Walls we were met by Phil Harding, from the Time Team TV programme, and Patrick Shelley, a local expert. Pat and Phil gave an entertaining talk explaining the finds on site and Phil demonstrated the use of stone axes and antler picks. We then moved on to Stonehenge where Phil and Pat were presented with flagons made specially for the day by Margaret Haslam.
After leaving Stonehenge, we were welcomed by the Mayor and Mayoress of Salisbury. Wine and nibbles were served while we admired the city's silverware. Jean Steer, the Mayor, was then presented with a memento of the day.
After this, we moved on to a local pub, where an excellent buffet lunch was provided and we all had a chance to chat with Phil and Pat. After lunch we were on the road again to Bath where we had some free time, culminating in a meeting with the Mayor of Bath at the Civic Hall. Obviously we had worked up an appetite once again by then, so it was on to the Red Lion at Woolverton for some fantastic pub food.
This was an excellent day out and I am sure everyone would want to say a big thank you to all those responsible. A special mention must go to Brian Angus who managed to raise an impressive amount of money on the coach by passing the hat round many times for us to contribute to various charities.
Susan Gill, Secretary
The Mayor's coach party viewing the town of Salisbury's silverware.
Monsieur Fernand Rigola, well-known to many members of this Association as the Chairman of Chantilly Town Twinning Committee, has been awarded the title of 'Commandeur' in the 'Legion d'Honneur'. This honour is similar to a British knighthood in its importance. The award was presented on 8th February at Chantilly Town Hall, by Madame Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, Minister of Health, Youth and Sport. Monsieur Eric Woerth, Mayor of Chantilly and Minister of Public Accounts and the Civil Service was also present.
Diana Deavin and Mary Talbott were honoured to be invited to attend the ceremony, accompanied by Richard Deavin and Simon Talbott. The Mayor of Watermael-Boitsfort - Chantilly's Belgian Twin Town - and representatives of their twinning committee were also present. Incidentally, Watermael-Boitsfort and Chantilly will celebrate fifty years of twinning later this year.
The simple but dignified ceremony was followed by a presentation outlining Monsieur Rigola's work as President of two charities; Handiservice and Mains du Coeur. Those of us who have known Fernand Rigola for some time were aware of his involvement in these two organizations, but had not realised the scope and level of what he has achieved over a period of more than 25 years.
The story began when he saw a woman with severe physical disabilities struggling to operate a lift button with a pencil in her mouth. In his professional life he worked for Siemens in France and he realised that the infra-red technology already developed for everyday use in devices such as television remote controls could be applied to give disabled people much more freedom and independence. During the following years he used his position to persuade people atoll levels to develop and fund the application of infra-red technology to simple tasks such as opening and shutting doors and windows. There are now over two hundred different applications and rooms and apartments throughout France which have been equipped to enable people with a range of disabilities to live more independently.
Fernand Rigola has been invited by President Nicolas Sarkozy to further this work at a national level, in particular with applications which will help Alzheimer's sufferers. In order to concentrate on this role he is relinquishing a number of civic responsibilities, including the Chair of the Chantilly Twinning Committee.
During the Reception after the ceremony, the Epsom & Ewell Town-Twinning Association presented Monsieur Rigola with a special commemorative plate, which had been specially made to mark the occasion by Margaret Haslam, a member of the Association. Fernand Rigola expressed his warm thanks to our Association and the hope that he will retain his links with Epsom and Ewell.
M. Rigola flanked by Mary Talbott (left) and Diana Deavin (right), having presented him with a special commemorative plate made by Margaret Haslam.