Woodhall Spa’s “Twin” village is called Roëzé. pronounced “Wahzay”. The full title is Roeze sur Sarthe and it is about 15 kilometres south-west of Le Mans where the 24hr races are held.
Sited on the banks of the river Sarthe it is a quaint and charming little village with a baker’s shop, a butcher’s shop, a general store, a large church, one pub, a restaurant and La Mairie (the Council offices) and many very friendly people.
After a couple of preliminary visits a “Twinning Charter” was signed by leaders of both parish councils in Roëzé on October 1988 and in Woodhall Spa the following year in the Spring. A French government minister was present at the ceremony in Roëzé and Edward Leigh, the then member of parliament for this area attended the ceremony here in Woodhall Spa.
The way the twinning works is this. In the Spring, French families come to Woodhall Spa usually for four or five days in a French coach. During their stay there will be a “welcome-dinner”, an outing in their coach giving the host families a little respite and a couple of free days which usually means shopping in Lincoln. However the programme is never obligatory and often some of the host families prefer to “do their own thing”
In the summer holidays, generally late August, English teenagers will go over to Roëzé staying with French families and although homesickness can occur for the first day or two, there are usually tears when the goodbyes have to be said.
The following year, it is the turn of the English families to go to Roëzé for four or five days in the Spring, sometimes by coach, sometimes by car and now perhaps by Eurostar or Ryanair (The flights go from Stanstead to Tours, which is about one hour’s drive from Roëzé). Again, there will be a welcome dinner in the village hall, one or possibly two outings arranged and also a shopping trip to a hypermarket in Le Mans for those all important bottles of French wine. Then in late August French teenagers come to Woodhall Spa for perhaps a week accompanied by one or two adult chaperones.
Since 1988, both villages have made many visits and many many long-lasting friendships have been forged and quite often families from both villages will make “unofficial” visits to see their “twin” families even though the complete journey takes almost fourteen hours (if travelling by car and overnight ferry from Portsmouth). The Twinning Association has just formed its own caravanning group and it is hoped that caravanning events in the form of “Rallys” will be arranged in the near future either in UK or perhaps on the Continent.
Our French friends say that Woodhall Spa is a wonderful, charming village and they all look forward to coming here. There always seems to be more French families than English Hosts and the Twinning committee are always on the look-out for people who would like to join the association and become friends with a French family. The committee do their best to match families as best as they can in matters such as age, smoker/nonsmoker and other interests. It is felt that the young people of Woodhall Spa can only benefit from associating with youngsters from other countries, learning their culture, customs and language.
If you are interested and would like to know more about the Woodhall Spa Twinning Association, please contact the Woodhall Spa Twinning Secretary via e-mail using firstname.lastname@example.org