End of an era for Burnley Twinning Association as chairman steps down after 20 years at the helm

A prosecco afternoon tea was one of the many gifts presented to Mr David Smith who has retired from the Burnley Twinning Association after 20 years.

The gifts were presented to David, who has spent the last eight years as chairman of the association, by vice chairman Janet Elliott.

Keen to use the association, which is twinned with Vitry-sur-Seine south of Paris, to promote Burnley and the surrounding area, David has many achievements to look back on including arranging for a group of Vitry footballers to come to Burnley.

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The players, who stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, toured the town and Burnley Football Club and attended the Burnley v Newcastle match.

David Smith, who has stepped down as chairman of Burnley Twinning Association, and his wife Kay (left) receive their afternoon tea gift from vice chairman Janet Elliott.

David also successfully applied for funding to support French lessons at different levels for members of the association which also provides support and hosts for French students who want to find work placements in Burnley.

University students were found places including placements at Burnley College, Burnley Town Hall, Mid-Pennine Arts and Equestrian Surfaces, Burnley.

Three local schools, Whittlefield and Ightenhill primary schools and Shuttleworth College, together with Burnley College, were found partners in Vitry, through Burnley Twinning Association. Students share e-mail messages, pen-portraits of each other and share their art work.

The twinning association also supported French business professionals who were working in Burnley on short term courses, providing them with host families and the chance to experience Lancashire food and culture first hand.

Celebrating the work and efforts of groups like the twinning association, Burnley Council, businesses and voluntary organisations, Burnley was awarded Le Drapeau d'honneur, the Flag of Honour from the Council of Europe, a body of 47 member states, for the second time.

Burnley was one of only eight towns and cities to receive the award across the whole of Europe to honour its outward looking attitude and efforts to bring people together for the benefit of all.

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In 2015 the association was presented with the European Diploma and, after co-ordinating the successful bid, David went to Strasbourg to receive it on behalf of Burnley.

Before the pandemic the association was involved in three exchanges each year, which included a group of 30 members visiting Vitry, a group of Ramblers visiting Vitry and a visit to the Alps near Chamonix.

The Burnley group is also heavily involved with the North West Twinning Association, which has representatives of all the associations in North West England and North Wales. This included hosting a conference at the Holiday Inn in Burnley.

Taking over from David are Janet Elliott and Adrian Dean as co-chairs leading the executive committee.