FAMILIES from Dorchester opened up their homes to celebrate a tale of two towns.
Members of the Dorchester Bayeux Society welcomed old and new friends during a visit from their French counterparts.
And chairman of the group Anthony Thorpe hopes the celebrations will encourage even more people to join.
He said: “We would love to see more members from the next generation joining our society.
“I hope the idea of twinning is an idea that continues to stick around.”
More than 100 French and English friends attended a mayoral reception at the Corn Exchange in Dorchester, to kickstart a weekend of activity.
Town mayor Andy Canning paid tribute to the 53 years of links between the towns, that he said ‘continue to grow stronger’.
He said: “Our family has twice visited Bayeux during the years that I have been on the council and on both occasions we very much enjoyed experiencing the heritage of your town and the warmth of your welcome.
“I am confident that our town’s welcome to you will be just as friendly and warm.”
He added: “I would personally like to thank every one of our hosts for the warm welcome they will provide, and for every one of our visitors for taking the time to make the journey to our town.”
Dorchester and Bayeux were ‘twinned’ in 1959, the same year as the society was founded.
Links were forged because the Dorset regiment were the first soldiers to enter the town at the end of the Second World War.
Around 50 people from Bayeux visited the town last weekend, and, with their Dorchester hosts, explored the region with visits to Swanage and Athelhampton House.
A fish and chip supper was also organised.
Mr Thorpe said: “Everyone had a brilliant time and we were very lucky with the weather.
“It was especially nice because the folk festival was on in Swanage and so our French visitors got to see a bit of traditional Morris Dancing.”
He added: “The Dorchester Bayeux Society has a year-round programme of events, and we hold a lot of talks and dinners during the winter.
“Then around September each year we organise a visit.”
To find out more, or to join the society, call Mr Thorpe on 01305 852640.
‘We’ve been friends for years’
FAMILIES who have met through the society have remained friends for generations.
This year’s visit was the first time Edith Anne, 74, from Bayeux, has stayed with 62-year-old Jenny Comben at her home in Winterbourne Abbas, though the pair have known each other for four years.
Mrs Comben said: “The exchanges are great, because you get to meet a lot of old and new friends.”
Mrs Anne added: “I really like Dorchester.”