Prepared by Peter Copsey - Secretary

 

1.

This report covers the period from 1st April 2008 and is presented to the Annual General Meeting on 16th March 2009.

 

2. Membership.

The Association has 56 members as at 16th March 2009, a decrease of six from last year.

 

3. Chauvigny Activities.

The major event of the year was the visit of our friends from Chauvigny in July. Twenty-three Chauvignois arrived in Billericay on July 3rd. On the following day there was a reception in the Town Council Offices where our guests were welcomed by the Chairman of the Council followed by dinner at Little Burstead Golf Club. There was an exchange of gifts and the evening was crowned by a fascinating and sometimes amusing display of English and French court dancing by Sheila & Terry Gandy.

 

On 5th July our guests were taken on a visit to Constable Country, starting with a lunch at Langham and followed by a visit to Flatford Mill and the surrounding area where Constable painted many of his more famous works. In the evening many went to Chelmsford Cathedral for a choral concert.

 

Monday 7th was for many the highlight of the visit with a day in London. John Baron MP welcomed us to the Houses of Parliament where he arranged two tours, one in French and one in English. After a picnic lunch at the British Museum, we enjoyed a coach tour of central London accompanied throughout by an excellent bilingual Blue Badge guide.

 

Our guests returned to France on 8th July. The programme was arranged so that the Chauvignois had more time with their hosts and on free days they were taken to various Essex attractions.

 

Plans are well in hand for our visit to Chauvigny between 6th and 11th May 2009.

 

Four members of the Association represented Billericay on the Friendship Walk which this year took place in the Lozere region in the south of France.

 

A pleasurable walk around Stock took place on 14th March, arranged by Mary Hawkins.

 

Two French students experienced a month's work experience at Stockbrook Country Club and hosts are being sought for work experience in 2009.

 

Pen-pal links, via e-mail, between teenagers in the two towns continue and new contacts are sought

 

4. Fishers Activities.

The student exchange with Fishers has become a regular event thanks to the generosity of the Twinning Association of Fishers.

 

In June a party of two teachers and four students from Fishers and Hamilton Southeastern High stayed with Billericay families. Some of the time here was spent in Billericay and Mayflower Schools where the visitors experienced the British education system. Events were also arranged: these included a conducted tour of the Town, a visit to Norsey Wood where the warden took them on a guided walk, a visit to Barleylands Craft Studios and a trip on the Chelmer to Paper Mill Lock. The hosts arranged a visit to London where they saw the sights of the City including the Millennium Eye.

 

In November the return visit took place when four students and two teachers from the two Billericay high schools accompanied by our Association's Chairman visited Fishers. Time was spent in the two high schools and the visitors all were greatly impressed by the clean, modern and extensive facilities that the schools offered. A visit to Indianapolis was arranged which took in the Capital Building, the Indy 500 racetrack and the new Lucas Football Stadium. While there, the Renaissance Fayre took place and Billericay was well represented on the events and displays. The Fayre is a major fund-raiser for the Fishers Twinning Association.

 

On their return the students made a presentation to the Association describing their experiences and impressions of the visit. Light refreshments were provided and the evening was enjoyable.

 

Plans are in hand for a return visit of students and teachers to Billericay in June/July 2009. Furthermore, members of the Fishers Town Council, Rotary Club and Twinning Association are expected in Billericay in early September.

 

5. Fund-raising.

Considerable effort has been put in by various members in fund-raising for the Association; their contributions are gratefully acknowledged.

 

Terry Gandy kindly opened his garden to visitors in April, raising money for the Association.

 

John Baron's Fun Walk took place on May 18th in which eleven members of the Association took part, the largest showing to date. Thanks go to Patricia Clark for the arrangements, to David Clark who was one of the marshals and to those of us who took part.

 

The Rotary Club's "Fun Day on Sunday" at Sun Corner coincided with the visit of the Chauvignois and so the Association did not have their usual stall.

 

A Bluewater shopping trip took place in December but was regrettably less successful than on previous occasions. Thanks to Trevor Stansfield for the arrangements.

 

On January 10th a quiz night was organised at the main Canon Roche Hall. This event, similar to previous years, was thoroughly enjoyed by all. 144 people attended, filling the Hall. It was again highly successful and profitable. Thanks go to David and Patricia Clark for writing the quiz, and to Ray Keilthy, the quizmaster.

 

6. Publicity.

The Association has been mentioned in The Resident, the Town Cryer and several of the local papers as a result of our activities.

 

The Association Newsletter Issues 7, 8 and 9 were sent to all members in June 2008, October 2008 and February 2009 respectively.

 

A brochure for the Association is available to the public in the Library.

 

The web-site has been regularly updated and the newsletters added with thanks to Rod Rapley.

 

 7. Other Matters. Following a change in the organisation of the Billericay Mayflower Twinning Association (twinning Billericay with Billerica, Massachusetts, USA), relationships have greatly improved. We are now regularly liaising with them on future events which could lead to some collaboration between the two associations.

 

Our twinning road sign on the London Road was reportedly hit and damaged by a collision with a car and has been removed. It seems unlikely that the sign will be found.