During the past year, the Elham Valley Twinning Association (EVTA) had 35 members, drawn from the villages of Bridge, Kingston, Barham, Elham, Lyminge and Etchinghill, with three outlying members in Herne Bay and Folkestone.
We are twinned with a similar number of villages in the Beaujolais region of south central France, with reciprocal visits between us in alternate years. Having deferred their 2015 visit due to lack of support, we were delighted to welcome a party of 19 for the weekend of 27-30th May, their numbers having been boosted by the addition of a group improving their conversational English. They had plenty of practice over the weekend, when they enjoyed a tour of Canterbury on the Saturday morning and an excellent dinner at The Abbot's Fireside that evening. After a traditional Sunday lunch at The Black Robin, Kingston, they spent the remainder of the day in the company of their hosts. They departed on Monday afternoon from Ashford station, much impressed by our warmth and generosity.
On a pleasant Friday evening in July members met at the King's Arms, Elham, for a guided tour of the village led by local historian Derek Boughton and followed by a fish and chips supper at the aforesaid hostelry, by then all more knowledgeable about Elham and the many characters who have lived there over the years.
On 1st September an historical tour of Broome Park, the former home of Lord Kitchener, was rescheduled to be before lunch so that members could attend the afternoon funeral of a longstanding and much loved member, Eric Doy, who had given considerable service to the association over many years and is much missed.
Our day visit in April 2016 to our original twins in the Vallée de la Course, in the Pas de Calais region, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Twinning Charter, has rekindled our association with them, and in September they sent a party over for a return visit when we enjoyed a convivial lunch at the Rose and Crown, Elham. The French were not disappointed in having their stereotypical image of Britain as being a cold, wet and windy northern outpost of civilisation confirmed!
A regular feature over the past few years has been the showing of a series of classic French films, but enthusiasm had waned and it was decided to give this form of entertainment a rest. A proposed evening in November to show early episodes of 'Allo 'Allo received a very muted response, confirming that this decision was well-founded and the event was cancelled.
The final function for 2016 was the ever-popular Christmas Lunch, once again at The Black Robin, Kingston, which was enjoyed by 22 members.
For 2017, a varied programme of events has been planned. These include a historic tour and cream tea at The Grand Hotel, Folkestone in May, a day trip in June to the Baie de la Somme for a ride on the steam railway followed by lunch at a local restaurant, hosting our Vallée de la Course friends here again for lunch in July, and a weekend visit to Beaujolais in October.
So the year ahead promises to be very enjoyable, with several opportunities to strengthen our ties with our Gallic cousins in both Pas de Calais and Beaujolais.