Crowborough and Montargis became twinned towns following the war-time association and enduring friendship between Colonel Maurice Buckmaster (head of the French section of Britain’s Special Operations Executive) and M. Jean Laurent, French Resistance leader in the Montargis area. The Colonel lived at Coleman’s Hatch and his recommendation of Crowboroughy as a suitable twin (on the advice of Geoffrey Johnson-Smith MP) was inspired because the town had a proud war heritage and ws a residence of Clementine Churchill.
In May 1966, a Charter of Friendship was signed by the village administrations of Crowborough and Montargis. In 1967 the Society of Friends of Montargis was created to take on the job of promoting “Friendship, co-operation, and mutual awareness” between the two towns. It has been very successful – firendships lasting decades have formed as a result of the association between the towns, and there have even been some marriages.
Central to the activities of the Society are organised five-day visits to Montargis and return visits by members of the Friends of Crowborough. These long weekends include official receptions and cultural outings but, above all, they permit experience of another way of life through staying with, and then hosting, a French family. Once tried, it’s an experience most people want to repeat again and again. Language is not a barrier, and for the under-fives to the over-80s, it’s never too early, or too late.
Most of the Society’s hosting costs are covered by members’ subscriptions and fund-raising social events throughout the year. Already planned for 2017 are Quiz & Race Nights and a Summer Garden Party. Keep an eye on the Events page for more information.