AN ORGANISATION that has been creating cross-Channel friendships for more than half a century is encouraging more people to get involved.

Many residents of Dorchester and the surrounding area will have seen signs and other references to the towns with which the county town is twinned.

However, many may not know the full extent of the friendship with the residents of Bayeux that stretches back generations.

The bond was formed in the Second World Ward when soldiers from the Dorset Regiment liberated the French town from occupation in June 1944.

The twinning arrangements were set up for residents either side of The Channel to understand each other better and maintain peace.

The Dorchester-Bayeux Society was formed 56 years ago and is still active as ever.

Its main function is to organise visits between the two towns every year in September, with members visiting their friends in Bayeux one year before hosting them the following year.

When all the members get together there is usually in excess of 100 people as the groups enjoy three to four days of fun and friendship.

There are often other informal meetings during the year as a result of the friendships created.

Bayeux Twinning President Dominique André said the French are always in for warm welcome and interesting time when they come to Dorchester.

He said: “We are very interested to discover the way of life and the culture among our neighbours from Dorchester.”

His Dorchester counterpart Anthony Thorpe said: “We like all our visitors to share experiences and create lifelong friendships with their host families - as, indeed has already happened many times.”

An ability to speak French is not necessary to join the society although many members on both sides use the visits as an opportunity to improve their language skills.

The Dorchester group is always mindful of its roots and always ends its visit to Bayeux with a trip to the war cemetery to lay a wreath.

It has also held various other events to commemorate the Second World War and other events linking the two towns.

Young people have also been involved with visits between the two countries from sports teams and music groups over the years.

Mr Thorpe said: Many of these people we hope will go on to join the Dorchester-Bayeux Society in future years.

“There is no age limit on membership and we encourage all of you who may wonder, to come along to a meeting and see for yourselves.”

The Dorchester members meet during the winter months and listen to speakers on a variety of topics.

The next trip will see Dorchester members head to Bayeux this September.

For more information contact Mr Thorpe on 01305 852640.


t: 01305 269801