Festivals’ twinning links continue to grow on either side of Atlantic

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Sets of fabric coasters made by 10-year-old Ella Shipley, a pupil at Goosnargh Oliverson’s Primary School, travelled across the Atlantic Ocean courtesy of Goosnargh and Whittingham Whitsuntide Festival chairman David Butters and his wife Stephanie who delivered them to friends established through the twinning of their festival with the Annapolis Valley Appleblossom Festival in Nova Scotia, Canada.

As the Butters flew across the water, there was plenty of time to think about the many growing links blossoming in both communities, all stemming from the festivals having been officially twinned two years ago, as well as their personal interest in the area.

David and Stephanie, who first visited Canada with the 10-strong Goosnargh delegation in 2013 for the Nova Scotian side of the official twinning, were firstly delighted to return and to deliver the coasters created by Ella, some of which were presented by singer-songwriter-saxophonist AJ Brown from Halifax, Yorkshire, whose invitation to sing at a Gala Dinner raising awareness of End Polio Now in Nova Scotia sprang from a chance meeting between the Butters and Rotarian Stella Roy, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, during that visit two years ago.

AJ, 25, rose through the ranks of the Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra, now directed by David Little, son of Longridge Band secretary, Fred Little.

A graduate of Leeds College of Music, AJ donated a Christmas song he had written called “Wrapped Up” to Wigan Rotary Club for their End Polio Now Campaign - part of a worldwide Rotary Project begun in 1985 and backed by the Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation.

Stephanie says: “In 2013, when we were in Nova Scotia for the festival twinning, we attended a meeting of Kentville Rotary and there met the guest speaker, Stella Roy, District Governor Elect for 2014/15. Her Gala Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia for the End Polio Now Campaign was mentioned and the idea to invite AJ, who is from Halifax, England, to sing at the Gala Dinner was born.”

David and Stephanie accompanied AJ and his manager, Dr Ian Darrington MBE, to Nova Scotia this April-May and besides singing at the dinner, AJ presented the coasters to all those competing to be Queen Annapolisa 83rd.

Amongst others to receive the coasters were festival board members and Rotary and Annapolis Valley friends including Helena McCay and Tony Bentley who visited Goosnargh and Whittingham in 2012 for this side of the Atlantic’s official twinning.

During their visit this year David and Stephanie also attended Rotary’s District Conference for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton and Newfoundland where they learnt of another, very moving development, which stems from the festival twinning.

Stephanie said: “We saw first hand the real progress being made with the establishment of hospices in Nova Scotia (the first in Canada) in a joint project with the Longridge and North Preston Rotary Club, and Stella Roy, who looks forward to attending the official opening of the new bridge at St Catherine’s Hospice, Preston, in the summer.

“Stella visited Goosnargh in the summer of 2013 and was introduced by Rotarian Andy Thiele to the then Preston North Rotary Club and a joint project involving St Catherine’s Hospice also took shape. A cash contribution for the bridge being erected at St Catherine’s Hospice came from Nova Scotia and expertise is being provided by St Catherine’s for the establishment of the first hospices in Canada, beginning with Hospice Halifax.”

Amongst other links being furthered since the twinning is one between Broughton High School and Kings County Academy, Kentville, which was visited by David, Stephanie and AJ.

Stephanie says: “We took with us a letter from Mike Stockley at Broughton High who visited Nova Scotia in the run up to the twinning and is keen to link with the academy. AJ performed at a whole school assembly, we met the head and deputy and presented sets of Ella’s coasters, one of which is now with the textiles department. Headteacher Mike Ouellette could not have been more enthusiastic and we were able to see the apple tree, planted in 2013 by former village festival queens Daisy and Poppy Haresnape, who were the official festival delegates, and 2013 queen Chloe Collins, and newly emerged from under 9ft of snow!

“KCA is a 600 pupil 4-14 community school with a most impressive pastoral, leadership and music programme. Immersion teaching in French is offered and there is an impressive environmental programme underway which will link well with the environmental work Jane Sims is doing at Broughton. As the age range is so wide there will be opportunities for primary schools to form links if they wish. Mike issued an open invitation for anyone to visit his school to match that extended by Chris Morris at Broughton to visit.”

So, having spent “a fabulous, if freezing week exploring the Annapolis Valley,” visiting all the small towns along the valley; coupled with another successful Goosnargh and Whittingham festival having taken place at the weekend, one might expect David, Stephanie and co to sit back and take a rest, but if anyone thinks they will be sitting still, think again, for preparations are in hand for a “Festival Royal Ball” to mark the Queen’s landmark date of becoming our longest reigning monarch.

Stephanie says: “We hope it will appeal as a fitting way to mark a significant event in British history. The format of our festival queen’s retinue with page boy and attendants, cloak and tiara is modelled on royal coronations.”

The date of the black tie event is Friday, September 11 starting with a reception at 7pm (dinner at 7.30pm) at the Wyrebank Banquesting Suite, Garstang, the evening also including cabaret, dancing and grand auction.

If anyone would like tickets they are £28 each, or people may book tables of 10 - contact Stephanie on 01772 865840.