A weekend in marvellous Mouvaux!
At the invitation of the Twinning Association of Mouvaux, Julie and I spent a weekend in this delightful town to which Buckingham is twinned. Nestling in the suburbs of Lille, Mouvaux blossoms with beautiful buildings and parks plus wonderful welcoming people of course! Lille was just stunning and it is a city to which we plan to return. The weekend was arranged to celebrate the twinning arrangements that Mouvaux has with Halle in Belgium (60 years), Neukirchen-Vluyn in Germany (26 years) and Buckingham (from 2004).
I am grateful to the many people who looked after both of us whilst we were there, particularly Annie Millecamps who coordinated the weekend from Mouvaux and my hosts Bruno and Beatrice Baussart who looked after us. I thank my colleagues from Buckingham who generally held our hands, as it were, and made sure that my speeches were correctly translated into French. A special mention must go to Rory Evans who provided some amazing guitar music for the festival. My picture shows me at the German stall. Our Buckingham stall almost totally sold out.
In a special event on the Saturday I was honoured to be able to donate a biography of Jo Cox to the Mouvaux Library. Jo Cox was a British MP who was murdered in a terrorist act in 2016. Her life was dedicated to building communities where everyone recognises that we all have far more in common than anything which might divide us. I had already decided to use some unexpected money that I had to buy several copies of Jo’s biography and to donate them to the libraries of my life. As this is a celebration of mutual respect between international communities it is obviously appropriate that I was able to do this in the earnest hope that current and future residents of each town will be inspired by Jo’s life to work for a world full of love with deep appreciation for the rich diversity and commonality of humankind.
On the Sunday morning we visited with two German colleagues from Neukirchen-Vluyn the Verlaine Message Museum, which was once a German Bunker. We were inspired, intrigued, fascinated and moved by a brilliant local guide who brought all the exhibits to life. It is difficult to explain the range of emotions we experienced as we toured around, particularly as we were one week away from the remembrance ceremonies. Suffice to say that we saw the room in which the German High Command received the coded signal that informed the Resistance (and the Germans too) that the D-day landings were to happen the next day. Julie and I ended the day with three days of memories which will stay with us for many years.