Summer Newsletter 2008 (no 36)

AGM 23rd June 2008

A total of 27 members attended the AGM at the Town Hall to hear an update on activities of the past year and some of the plans for the future. Diana Deavin, the Chairman, reported that the tenth anniversary celebrations with Chantilly had proved very successful and that a number of representatives of the Council, including the Chief Executive and the Mayor, had also attended.

The Christmas market went well, with Bill Barwell organising an excellent coach trip and Brian Angus leading our team on the stall. Sadly, no coach trip is planned this winter but it is expected that Cyril Frazer will be organising one in May 2009.

Mary Talbott and Diana Deavin attended Monsieur Rigola’s ceremony, where he received the Legion d’Honneur. On behalf of the Town-Twinning Association, he was presented with a commemorative plate, specially thrown by Margaret Haslem. Diana informed the meeting that Monsieur Rigola had stepped down from his former role and that Monsieur Charpentier is now head of the Twinning Committee with Epsom.

Membership numbers remain stable and the Treasurer reported there was a very small surplus of funds for the year.

It was suggested that further twinning possibilities with Űberlingen, in Germany, and the Belgian town of Watermael-Boitsfort may be considered in the future.

Ken Greener reported that his trip to Chantilly with the Male Voice Choir was very successful and healthy ties are also being forged through contacts with the Rotary Club, Model Railway Club, Epsom Historical Society and the Tennis Club.

The regular members’ dinners have been well attended and continue to be based at the Epsom Club, but Margaret Nightingale can be contacted with suggestions for alternative venues. It was suggested that themed evenings, for example Bastille Day and the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau, could be a possibility.

Diana announced she would be standing down as Chairman and she was warmly thanked for her contribution over the years. Mary Talbott is taking over as the new Chairman and all the other committee members were willing to remain in their posts.

Susan Gill Secretary

French film season Leatherhead Theatre is showing a season of French films in August and this might be of interest to members. There is something to suit all tastes, ranging from the classic Jean de Florette, to the perhaps vaguely topical Asterix aux Jeux Olympiques. More details can be obtained from the box office on 01372 365141, or online at:

Epsom Male Voice Choir strikes the right note in Chantilly

A visit by the Epsom Male Voice Choir to Chantilly proved highly successful, with 52 singers and wives departing from Epsom at the crack of dawn on Friday 23rd May, crossing the channel on the P&O ferry Pride of Kent to Calais and then on to Chantilly. Once settled into the refurbished Campanile Hotel, choir members went to meet their hosts for dinner at Bois St Denis. We were honoured to have Monsieur Charpentier, the deputy mayor of Chantilly and his wife, as our main guests, together with several other members of the town twinning committee, including Claudine Thiefine, who was the main contact in Chantilly for us and who was the organiser of our concert at St Therese’s Church .

On the morning of Saturday 24th May, we performed in the market square to a very appreciative audience and our ladies set up a small stall to sell the new CD recently issued by the Choir. In the evening we gave a concert at the Church of St Therese in Bois St Denis, for which the Choir received a standing ovation. During a very enjoyable buffet put on by the congregation, the Choir was presented with a watercolour painting especially commissioned for us to celebrate our visit. The Choir proposes to have this painting hung with an inscription in a suitable place in the Town Hall.

The Epsom Male Voice Choir before their performance in Chantilly

Sunday saw the choir performing at the Anglican Church of St Peter in Chantilly for the morning eucharist, where we were welcomed most warmly by Nick Clarke, the rector, and his congregation. In the afternoon, we ventured out of Chantilly to the town of Creil where we gave a Songs of Praise concert at the Evangelical Church. Again, we were made most welcome. Monday 26th was spent returning to England via Abbeville and Le Touquet arriving in Epsom in the late evening.

The Choir CD is available via members or via the web-site The price is £8.00 plus £1.50 postage and packing. Members might be interested to know that on Saturday October 18th the Choir will be giving a concert at Boxhill School, Mickleham in aid of ‘Help for Heroes’ commencing at 7.30pm.

Ken Greener Chairman, Epsom Male Voice Choir

Attention willing volunteers!

The committee is asking for your help with a number of tasks. In particular, we are seeking more German speakers, who would be able to help us in anticipation of Epsom’s future twinning with Űberlingen – our sincere thanks to those who have already responded. We are also looking for people willing to help organise a future coach trip from Epsom to Chantilly, for example to the Christmas Market.

Are any of you prepared to participate more actively in the Association, in whatever capacity, to help widen our activities in twinning? Indeed, are any of you willing to join the committee? If you are able to say yes to any of the above, please contact me or any member of the committee for more information. Thank you - in anticipation!

Margaret Nightingale Membership Secretary

Members’ dinners

The most recent event was held at the Epsom Club on 10th June, when 12 of us enjoyed a delicious dinner together in excellent company. A lovely evening was had by all and once again we are grateful to Sean and Joyce for looking after us so well.

As in the past, we will continue to hold our members’ dinners on the 2nd Tuesday of alternate months - so the next members' dinner is scheduled to fall on Tuesday 12th August. I would be interested to know whether members think we should hold them more often. Would you for instance support a dinner once a month instead of every other month?

Also do you know of other possible local venues for us. If you have a favourite restaurant, especially if it has a French flavour, please tell us and we’ll try it! Please email me at

Margaret Nightingale Membership Secretary

Taking ‘Le Plunge’

Although I learned French at school, it was a very long time ago. However I have visited France on numerous occasions since leaving school and in the early 1990s, before Epsom was twinned with Chantilly, I was associated with the Spelthorne – Melun twinning association through a sailing club in Shepperton. I still have friends in Melun; one of whom speaks no English.

So I wanted to improve my French. For the past two years I have attended classes in Wimbledon and made excellent progress, but I wanted a challenge at another level. At the French exhibition in London last January I met the concept of “Le Plunge”, a total immersion weekend in Paris during which no English would be spoken, and during which students would be faced with “defis” (challenges); problems to be solved through meeting French people.

I was a little concerned about the level of my French, but my teacher assured me it would be adequate. Consequently I enrolled for a weekend and early on 18th April at St. Pancras I met Patricia, our French-born teacher, and my three fellow students. As we stepped from the platform onto the train we were told that we were “now in France”. No English was to be spoken until our return!

After settling into our hotel, near the Place de la Bastille, we had lunch at “un restaurant populaire” - a working class restaurant not frequented by tourists. Our first challenges in Paris were concentrated on the rue de la Roquette and included finding the names of two books written by Voltaire. More terrifying was asking customers leaving a supermarket what they thought of organic products.

The next day a visit to St Suplice and le Jardin du Luxembourg was followed by intense discussions with Sabine, Vivienne and Marie, French friends of Patricia, on subjects important to the French, like love and food! Sunday morning presented the biggest challenges in the huge market near the Bastille.

What did I think of the course? Superb individual tuition, a wonderful guide, my vocabulary improved, and the grammar was easier, I thought in French. My accent remained dreadful as ever but it did wonders for my confidence. Overall it was a fantastic weekend and I cannot wait for the Chantilly Christmas Market!

Peter Hardy Twinning Member

Broadening our horizons

Some time ago, the committee wrote to the heads of twinning in Überlingen in Germany and Watermael-Boitsfort in Belgium to ask if they were each interested in sending a small group to visit Epsom & Ewell prior to starting any formal discussions about extending our twinning activities. Both towns have been twinned with Chantilly for many years, and we have already got to know several members of their twinning committees at the Christmas Market in Chantilly. They seemed keen to cooperate with us, and we were interested in pursuing this idea. We have now had a reply from them both and will be discussing potential dates for a visit from Überlingen, possibly towards the end of this year, and from Watermael-Boitsfort early in 2009. Association members Anne and Clive Richardson paid a brief visit to Überlingen early in July and opened discussions then. Also discussions will continue at this year’s Christmas Market, and we will keep you all informed of progress. We are lucky to have received a response from several members who are German speakers, but, if anyone else is interested in helping with these visits, do please get in touch.

Diana Deavin

The pretty German town of Uberlingen


Calendar of Events 2008

Tuesday 12th August Members’ Dinner at the Epsom Club

Tuesday 23rd September Prix d’ Epsom Race at Chantilly

Tuesday 14th October Members’ Dinner – venue to be confirmed

December Christmas Market at Chantilly

2009 January Annual Cheese & Wine Party May Coach trip to Chantilly

Committee for 2008/9

Mrs Mary Talbott, Chairman

Mrs Jane Melia, Vice Chairman

Mr Brian Vandervilt, Treasurer

Mrs Susan Gill, Secretary

Mrs Margaret Nightingale, Membership Secretary email:

Mrs Betty Emery, Publicity Officer

Cllr Clive Woodbridge, Newsletter Editor

Mrs Diana Deavin

Mr Brian Angus

Mrs Alison Chatterton

Mrs Jeanne Farmery

Mr Cyril Frazer Cllr

Jonathon Reed Alderman

Reg Saviel

Mr Ron Smith