MEMBERS of the Halstead Twinning Association travelled across the English Channel to celebrate a milestone anniversary of twinning with a town in northern France.

The weekend-long visit was to Haubourdin, a small town in the north of France very close to the city of Lille and just over an hour from the port of Calais.

The twinning association group has been in existence since Halstead was formally twinned with Haubourdin.

The latest special visit marked the 40th anniversary since the agreement.

Over the years, residents have forged long-lasting personal relationships with their twin families in France.

The twinning has sparked many exchange visits where the families have shared experiences and visited each other towns.

Following a weekend of festivities in Halstead last October, members of the association visited Haubourdin earlier this month, where they were entertained in full French style.

The weekend started with a full-day trip to Paris with a visit to the aviation museum at Le Bourget followed by lunch in the centre of Paris at Montmartre.

The afternoon then included a whistlestop tour around Paris, which included seeing Sacre Coeur, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, and the Eiffel Tower.

The visit then concluded with a boat trip along the river Seine before returning to Haubourdin.

On Sunday, the Halstead guests then hosted a spectacular soiree which started with speeches from Pierre Beharelle, the mayor of Haubourdin, and Mick Radley chairman of the Halstead association.

This was followed by a meal and an evening of entertainment with a singer and flamboyant dancers.

The evening concluded with a celebration cake and fizz to mark the special occasion.

Mr Radley said: “Unfortunately, this will be the last group exchange visit between the two towns.

“Declining numbers in recent years have made it impractical and not viable to continue with the annual group visits that members have enjoyed during the past 40 years.

“However, members on both sides of the channel have pledged to continue to exchange and meet with their families on an individual basis.

“It is hoped the town council will continue to engage with the Marie of Haubourdin and maintain the long-standing formal twinning between the two towns.”