Twinning Visit to Marans 2012
Visit to Marans in October 2012

Plan to revive school exchanges

Fifteen people flew from East Midlands airport on October 11th for our biannual trip to Marans. On arriving at La Rochelle we were warmly welcomed by our hosts and were soon on our way to their homes. For two recent members, Shirley Apperley and Terry Larkin, it was their first visit and therefore an entirely new experience.

A very full programme had been arranged for us, including a visit to see the on going construction of a full size replica of the Hermione, an historic 17th century French frigate. This ship sailed to America to assist in the War of Independence. Each stage of the build is being done as it was originally, including one woman hand sewing all of the sails. The British Navy have been a great help in this project, because in the 17th century a frigate exactly the same as the Hermione was captured and detailed drawings were made of it.. It is hoped that in the near future the newly built frigate will sail to America as did its predecessor.

The most important part of our visit was when Sue Rodgers and I went to the Maurice Calmel School. The pupils that attend are 11 - 14 years old. There are 500 pupils so it is smaller than our own Humphrey Perkins. An appointment had been made for us by Sue's host, and we were met by two delightful English teachers, Madame Auge and Madame Fontaine who then introduced us to the Principal, Monsieur Rulie. Exchanges with the schools in Barrow and Marans began over 50 years ago but unfortunately stopped sometime in the 1980s I believe, so the aim of our visit was to re-establish these links. Sue and I spent an hour in a classroom talking to the pupils in English. They asked questions and seemed keen to start corresponding by e-mail. The Principal and the English teachers were also very enthusiastic about the scheme. Peter Nutkins, Headmaster of Humphrey Perkins and Andy Harvey, Director of International Studies, had a meeting with Sue before we went to Marans, and they were very much in favour of getting the scheme going, so fingers crossed for the future. Getting young people involved is very important.

All too soon our stay in Marans came to an end, but already we are looking forward to next year when our friends from Marans will be joining us in Barrow.

Val Gillings.

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