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Anniversary celebrations to mark 60 years of twinning

Boston's special relationship with its French twin Laval marks its diamond anniversary this year.

For the past 60 years, representatives from both communities, have travelled back and forth across The Channel and it is no exaggeration to say we have become firm friends.

The driving forces have been the opportunities to sample the differences in the way of life and the similarities in sporting interests. Archery has been a shared pursuit and bowmen and women and other athletes from Laval and Boston have enjoyed friendly rivalry battling for ownership of the Valentine Cup.

It is hoped stronger sporting links can be forged to maintain the link with Laval for the future, possibly through activities seeing a resurgence in both communities, such as cycling and rugby.

Anyone interested in furthering these links should contact Ian Clayton, Chairman of the Boston International Committee, for more information. Call 01205 363976 and 07812 682123 or email Ian at glenhurst@btinternet.com

A civic party from Boston, was invited to visit Laval, to join in the diamond anniversary celebrations. 

As guests of honour Boston's VIPs were invited to a civic reception at the Town Hall, organised in order to renew the historical and very precious twinning agreement, which lies at the very heart of our Municipal friendship.

Mayor of Boston, Cllr Bernard Rush, seized the moment, by reciting a welcoming paragraph, or two, in French, then resorting to his mother tongue and thanking the Mayor, his officers and the townsfolk for the kindness they had shown. 

Cllr Rush offered the Mayor of Laval and the hosts thanks for a superb luncheon and sought to strenghten bonds by extending a very warm, but official, invitation to Mayor Zochett, and his Mayoral party to return to Boston next year. 

Cllr Rush, said: "This was an adventure for my Mayoress and I; it was a wonderful visit, which I desribed as a very large bag of goodies, all containing highly-delicious surprises, enjoyed by both myself and my Mayoress, who had an almost permanent smile as we were invited to  sample the delights, of what was the most beautiful of Municipalities.

"Our hosts were at our sides for the duration of our visit, attentive and dedicated. I could not help but be impresed by the depth of knowledge, and observational assistance provided to us, beautifully delivered and always informative.

"We understood that we were ambassadors for Boston borough, and the importance of this partnership should never be overlooked, because the people of Laval truly treasure the specialness of our relationship. Although it may be difficult to appreciate, especially from a distance, Bostonians have long been regarded as 'family'.

"By the time the visit came to a close, I think we both agreed that we have a duty to maintain this twinning."

On Friday (April 13) Cllr Rush was host in the Mayor's Parlour to students from Robert Buron Academy in Laval and their work placement hosts in Boston. Most years French students enjoy a taste of Boston and the English way of life when they stay in the self-catering student accommodation at Boston College while they also sample work experience. The Boston visit forms part of the French version of the BTec and the employers' assessments to the French tutors is a module of their course.

The original twinning agreement was signed in June, 1958, by the then Mayor, Cllr Cyril Valentine and the Mayor of Laval, Monsieur Le Basser.

The original aims were to maintain and develop the friendship, associations and alliances between the two towns, work together for the progress and development and wellbeing of the citizens, strengthen exchanges in all possible areas and encourage public assistance in respect of the continued development of the twinning. This is still the case and this commitment was renewed by the respective Mayors of both Boston and Laval during the 40th anniversary celebrations in 1998.

Ian Clayton, Chairman of the Boston International Committee, has made around 25 visits to Laval. He said: "I have recently returned having celebrated the 60th anniversary of the link in grand style. Having served on the Boston International Committee since 1967, and held the position of Chairman from 1986 to 1997 and 2007 to date, I was closely involved in both the 40th and 50th anniversaries and many other exchanges which have taken place.

"It is always a joy to go to Laval. I have been approximately 25 times both with my sport and family and in official groups representing Boston - it is a wonderful town, nay, city; beautiful, charming, historic and modern, in the same breath and very progressive. It is a joy to immerse myself in the culture and to take up again with my dear friends.

"Such is our attachment that we consider them our French family. It is a friendship which has endured for over 50 years. My first contact was via my sport of archery and I first came across these fabulous French people in 1962 when they first came to Boston. I was at Boston Grammar School then, when I met my current hostess. My first visit was in 1965; my then fiancée, now my wife, first visited in 1967. My sister did a French degree at university and spent her work experience year teaching in a school in Laval in 1974. While she was there, my late parents visited. My own children have been to Laval.

 "Twinning is the way to discover a country and its people. You are not a tourist - you are part of that family for a week. With this comes respect and, above all, friendship - friendship which only grows stronger with time and which transcends anything political.

"I cannot deny that it is a huge commitment, both in time and money, although, given the cost of foreign holidays, it is relatively inexpensive, but the benefits and rewards are immense."

Another Laval "regular" is David Lovelace, Chairman of Boston Judo Club over the past 40 years and involved in judo for half a century. His first stay in Laval dates back to 1961.

There are long-standing sporting connections between Boston and Laval - athletes compete for the honour of holding the Valentine Cup, donated by the late Alderman Cyril Valentine.

Mr Lovelace was awarded the Medal of Honour of Laval at the diamond anniversary. It bears the inscription: Offert par François Zocchetto, Maire de Laval  - translated: Offered by François Zocchetto, Mayor of Laval.

In 2014, he was awarded his 5th dan and lifetime membership from the British Judo Association by Dave Horton Jones, 7th dan, member of the British Judo Association, who paid tribute to him, saying :

"Dave Lovelace was a member of the Midlands Area Team in a time when nearly all the team were full GB Internationals.

"I was a member of his club from 1979 -1987, he was a fierce fighter and for him Judo is a lifestyle and not just a hobby or sport. It was an honour to present him with his awards."

Laval is situated in the "departement" of the Mayenne, situated between Anjou, Brittany and Normandy, and has the river Mayenne running through it. Laval is its capital town which dates back to the 6th century as a trading post and has a rich cultural heritage and a well-preserved historic district, within which there is situated an 11th century chateau in which many of the functions of Laval with Boston are held.

Churches date from the 12th and 16th century of which the Basilica Notre Dame d'Avesnieres is undoubtedly the most beautiful with its magnificent steeple.

There are also several museums and the castle now houses a museum of art, created in honour of Douanier Rousseau, a famous painter and a child of the county.

The Old Bridge and the Grande Rue have been the scene of most of the commerce of Brittany, Anjou and Normandy. Much of the medieval town is still evident in the town wall, the towers and ramparts.

The old town expands all around the castle from the port Beucheresse to the river. In the middle ages the river was the life of the city. The Washroom boats are a reminder of this.

The Perrine gardens, between the castle and the basilica, are at the heart of the town and honour one of the town's child prodigies, the sailor Alain Gerbault. A replica of his boat 'The Firecrest' can be found there.

A recent historical find was the Spas of Entrammes. Discovered in 1987 they can be dated back to the 3rd century. They are unusual in having kept their brick decorations. They were made up of four rooms - cold room, tepid room, steam room and then hot room. Paintings and statues decorated these rooms with great refinement. When the Roman Empire collapsed the building was transformed into a church in the 5th century.

The twinning organisation has a website with more detail and pictures - www.boston-laval-twinning.org

For an English version of the Laval Tourist Information website go to http://www.laval-tourisme.com/en/discover

Laval visit Mayor Rush Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
The Medal of Honour of Laval presented to judo champ David Lovelace

Mayor with Laval students Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Boston Mayor, Cllr Bernard Rush and Mayoress, Jayne Rush (centre), in the Mayor's Parlour with visiting students and staff from Laval. Pictured, third from right, is Ian Clayton, Chairman of the Boston International Committee