Hartford situated in the County of Cheshire in the North-West of England is twinned with Mornant, département du Rhône, France. Mornant is situated about 25km south-west of Lyon.
The official Mornant-Hartford twinning agreement was signed in 1987 in Hartford. In May 1988 a Hartford delegation went to Mornant for the equivalent celebrations. The two communities got together after Mornant had written to Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council asking for a similar sized village in Cheshire to link with it. Hartford had been looking for somewhere in France but did not know who to approach. The leading light behind the twinning initiative in Mornant had advised that they "must have a twin in Cheshire because the people there are so nice." When the first coachload of visitors came from Mornant to "inspect" Hartford during a tour of Britain, everything gelled immediately and the relationship has been warm and close ever since.
The philosophy behind the twinning is not to obtain a cheap holiday in France at your host's expense. The idea is to make real friends and then offer reciprocal hospitality to these new friends who share the same interests as yourself. You and your family can help to strengthen these bonds even further.
In addition to school exchange visits, other young people often arrive later in the holidays on unofficial exchanges with old friends. Some are able to arrange work experience with the local firms in Vale Royal who have indicated their willingness to take students for a short time. Sometimes young people from both countries work as "au pairs" for several weeks during the Summer holidays. Families meet up when they go on holiday in their respective correspondent's countries, and house exchanges have been organised very successfully.
More unusual contacts with the Mornantais have included a visit by a group of pensioners - many of whom were in England for the first time. They incorporated Hartford into a coach tour and stayed the night with hosts in the village. Though most could not speak English a tremendous rapport was established.
Formal occasions embracing civic visits are held from time to time - although the philosophy of twinning is that it works because of links established between individual friends rather than municipal bodies. In 1992 a French delegation attended Hartford's Beacon Europe celebrations between December 31-January 1, 1993. A group from Hartford went to Mornant at the beginning of September 1994 to attend the official opening of Mornant's new cultural centre and theatre. In July 1997 a large party from Mornant came to a twinning event organised by Vale Royal Borough Council for all the towns and villages all over Europe which have twins in the Borough. In September 2000 a Hartford delegation visited Mornant, and despite of the fuel crises in both countries, were guests of honour at an air display at Roanne to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain
Attempts have been made to organise reciprocal visits by local organisations but these have fallen through. If you want to do this, ask the Twinning Committee for a copy of their leaflet "Advice on Twinning" which has lots of helpful hints.
But in the meantime, relationships are kept alive and warm through correspondence and informal visits. For some, the fax machine and the e-mail have dramatically reduced the length of time it takes for communications to get from one country to another. Correspondence is usually in the native language of the writer.