MORE than half a century of twinning was celebrated by delegates from Weymouth and Portland and their French counterparts from the Normandy market town of Louviers.

A group of 30 people from across the Channel were welcomed by the Weymouth and Portland Louviers Society for a weekend of events to mark 53 years of association.

It began with a celebration dinner on Portland followed by a day of activities focusing on the island.

Bad sea conditions forced the cancellation of an intended boat trip on the MV Lively Lady, which had been planned to transport the visitors to Castletown.

Members first visited Portland Bill, then enjoyed a buffet lunch.

The visit to Tout Quarry was cancelled due to heavy rain and members went on to tour St George’s Church and then Portland Castle.

The historic twinning charter was signed between Weymouth and Melcombe Regis and Louviers, near Rouen, in 1958.

When Portland joined with Weymouth in 1974, the island became part of the longstanding twinning link.

Welcoming the party to the island, the mayor of Portland, Ian Munro-Price, said: “This twinning goes back a long way and I hope the weekend will highlight even more similarities between our residents, along with the unique features that give our visitors an insight into life on Portland, furthering the bonds between us that make twinning so important and relevant.”

Mayor of Weymouth and Portland Graham Winter added: “It’s a pleasure to greet the French delegation and I look forward to my first visit to Louviers in August.

“Fifty three years of twinning have resulted in a firm foundation for friendship being created. I hope the links between Louviers and Weymouth and Portland can be expanded, so that the twinning with Louviers becomes even stronger.”

It was a seventh visit for Roland Lienard, first deputy mayor of Louviers, who said it was always a great honour to take part in the exchange.

Georges Veyrat, chairman of the Louviers twinning committee, making his 39th visit to Weymouth and Portland, thanked local members for their warm welcome.

Ted Nicklin, as chairman of the Weymouth & Portland twinning committee, expressed his delight at meeting the new participants in the twinning that had come from France.