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21st - 25th April 2023:

After Four Long Years, Welcome Back Les Amis 

With a couple of our regular annual visits having been cancelled due to the Covid Crisis, it had been four years since we last hosted our counterpart Twinning Association: les Amis de Buxton, so we were all really looking forward to welcoming our friends back to Buxton...

Friday 21st April - l'Arrivée

The much anticipated arrival of les Amis de Buxton, in the usual Rose Voyages coach, at the Buxton Community School was followed by a fine reception buffet in the Gothic Hall. Deputy Mayor (and Twinning Association member) Graham Oakley gave the Welcome Address. It was really great to see our Amis finally back in Derbyshire.

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Saturday Morning: Commemoration

The Buxton Oignies Twinning came about as a result of links between the towns which were forged during the darkest days of the Second World War. During every twinning visit our two Associations join together in an act of remembrance to pay tribute to those who died as a result of the tragic events that occurred over 80 years ago.

You can read more about the historical wartime links between Buxton and Oignies here.

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The Parade gets under way in front of the Town Hall

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Fairfield Brass Band

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The young Oigninois reciting a poem learned off by heart, in memory of the soldiers who died during the fighting; "Merci pour votre courage"

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The Last Post

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Véronique and Sabine with the Twinning Flag

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Councillor Ollie Cross, Mayor of High Peak lays a wreath on behalf of the Borough Council

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Derek and Richard laying wreaths on behalf of the two Twinning Associations

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Mr and Mrs Mayor meeting some Petits Oigninois

The Friends of Oignies would like to thank the Fairfield Band for their participation in the parade, and Celebrant, Fiona Sloman for the eloquent and moving humanist service.

Saturday Reception at the Bath Road Centre

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The post parade buffet at the Bath Road Centre gave us all another opportunity to socialise and catch up on news from either side of la Manche. Many thanks to Nicolas Thévenette for providing ample supplies of excellent bière, from his own micro brewery in Oignies - La Brasserie Alceste. Cheers Nicolas!

Chilling in the kick-box corner

Jim's Tour of the Famous, Unusual and Curious Sights of Buxton

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Jim in full tour guide mode - in both English and French

Below: A selection of Buxton's curiosities featured on the tour

Jim Marriot's guided tour of Buxton on Saturday afternoon proved to be very popular with French and English families alike. The itinerary included many of the local sites featuring in his weekly pictorial countdown to this year's visit (available to view here). A very entertaining couple of hours included many fascinating facts and quirky anecdotes relating to the town and its history. There were plenty of surprises and curiosities, even for those who have lived in Buxton for many years.

Many thanks to Jim for organising the event, and for the excellent series of 48 pictures and commentary comprising the weekly countdown to the 2023 visit.

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The final stop on the tour was the Devonshire Dome, completed in 1879 it was, at the time, the world's largest unsupported dome

You will find details relating to the these Buxton features, along with many more from around the town and its surrounding countryside; all included in the complete 48 week countdown here

The magnificent Hargeaves window display, created by Martin the proprietor, in honour of the French visit to Buxton

Saturday Evening

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comes to the Palace Hotel

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It was all aboard the Hogwart's Express on Saturday evening for our Harry Potter themed Soirée Dansante at the Palace Hotel, attended by a whole host of witches and wizards appropriately dressed for a fine banquet in the Great Hall of the renowned Wizarding School.    

Were you on a table with Slytherins or Huffelpuffs? ...or maybe even Professor Dumbledore himself; I counted no less than three Bellatrix Lestranges or perhaps someone had been putting Polyjuice Potion in the wine...


Click on the pictures below (one of each table) to enlarge the image.

Table decorations: Hogwarts House Pennants and Golden Snitches.

Thankfully, after only two songs from the redoubtable Friends of Oignies Choir - probably more than enough - the professional musicians took over to provide the musical entertainment for the remainder of the evening. And so, to the sounds of 'Electric Landlady' playing a variety of rock standards, les Amis and Friends danced the night away until midnight.

Additional entertainment was provided by the first - and probably last - performance of the Friends of Oignies Male Voice Choir, under the expert direction of Helen Bloomfield. Unfortunately the singing was not quite so expert (evidently, from Sue Hodgkinson's videos) but hopefully the enthusiasm made up for the lack of musical ability.

Not to be outdone by the Buxton Chaps, the ladies of Oignies followed on with a spellbinding display of formation dancing, under the watchful eye of Head Wizard RIchard 'Dumbledore' Hector. This was also captured for posterity on Sue's Phone, and you can relive these heroic performances, should you wish, by clicking the play buttons.

Charlotte presents Sue with flowers to say thank-you on behalf of the Association.

Electric Landlady

Our grateful thanks go to Sue Quas-Cohen for masterminding and organising such a wonderful evening, along with the events staff at the Palace for all their hard work and enthusiasm.

Sunday : Journée Libre

Sunday was a Journée Libre (free day) with no organised events, to allow host families and their French guests to spend some time together, either on their own or in larger groups. Activities included visits to Lyme Park House and grounds, lunch at the Buxton Crescent, sampling the local ale at pubs in and around Buxton and a barge trip on the Macclesfield Canal.

All aboard!

for a trip along 'the cut'.

Monday: Bakewell and Thornbridge Hall

Bakewell Pudding (... or is it tart?) Shop 

The Cattle Auction

This year's charabanc day out featured our beautiful county of Derbyshire, with the benefit of some fortuitously sunny weather. First stop was the picturesque little  town of Bakewell, where attractions included the weekly market, the cattle auction and the consumption of authentic Bakewell Tart. Then it was back aboard the busses for the short trip to nearby Thornbridge Hall, for an excellent lunch and an afternoon in the gardens, and the annual Anglo-French contest for the Albert Boitrel Trophy. More of which below.

Thornbridge Hall and Gardens

The Chelsea Pensioner teddy bear, one of the gifts donated by Ted, is raffled off to raise funds.

...and he is duly won by Véronique.

It was great that Ted Fell, one of our most longstanding members, was able to take part in the weekend again this year. In 2020, when Ted became a Chelsea Pensioner, he moved to the Royal Hospital in London. (More on Ted's new life here). Notwithstanding his new address, he remains a member of the Twinning Association and we're all really glad that he still joins in with the annual visits. This year Ted generously donated a couple of lovely gifts - souvenirs from the Royal Hospital, Chelsea - which were raffled off during the afternoon at Thornbridge to raise funds for the Friends of Oignies.  

Entente Cordiale between Richard and Derek - À votre santé Messieurs!

Le Trophée Albert Boitrel

The 2023 edition of the annual Albert Boitrel Trophy Challenge between our two Associations took place in the grounds of Thornbridge Hall. This year's event was played out across three games: Quidditch (continuing Saturday evening's Harry Potter theme), Mölkky (skittle throwing) and Croquet. All three games were very enthusiastically contested, as you can see from the pictures below; and much fun was had by all!

Peter Quas-Cohen refereeing the Quidditch international

The Mölkky (skittle throwing) game was also a keenly fought encounter...

as was the Croquet.

In the end the Oigninois lifted the Trophy - yet again! Maybe 2024 will finally be Buxton's year.

Tuesday Morning : Le Départ

…and suddenly it was Tuesday Morning; where on earth did that weekend go? Time for our friends from Oignies to board their coach for the journey back to France. There were many tearful goodbyes, hugs and kisses, but also many great memories from another fantastic Twinning Weekend. Vive le Jumelage ! À la prochaine alors !!!

The Friends of Oignies would like to pass on our heartfelt thanks to Les Amis de Buxton for their generous donation of all the wonderful bric-a-brac to sell on our stall at the Dickensian Market later this year. Every family made a contribution, to be brought over on the coach; we really appreciate it. Merci mille fois les Amis !

La Famille Alleaume-Clegg

À 2024 les amis. On a énormément hâte d’y arriver !

Buxton 2023 Photo-Montage

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Another year and another fantastic twinning visit, full of fun, friendship and laughter. 5 days spent in an atmosphere of warmth and fellowship, with the Albert Boitrel games contested in high spirits and joyous camaraderie. The selected venues were sublime, and even the gardens were wonderful.


There was also a moment for contemplation during the remembrance service, when a group of the younger visitors showed their appreciation and respect for the soldiers who gave their lives in combat, their poem, recited by heart, declaring: Thank you for your courage!

- Sylvie Ossowski

  • Click the <PLAY> button on the screen below to start the movie.

  • To zoom to full screen click at the bottom right of the player screen.

Presentation by Sylvie Ossowski. Photos by Alain Cieslak, Véronique Bernard and Edmond Abram. Many thanks all.

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