They already feel twinned

St Francis Primary School key stage two pupils with front from left, Holly and Tony Stephenson from the Canadian Appleblossom festival and Mary and Tom Ibison from Goosnargh and Whittingham Festival.
St Francis Primary School key stage two pupils with front from left, Holly and Tony Stephenson from the Canadian Appleblossom festival and Mary and Tom Ibison from Goosnargh and Whittingham Festival.
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ALTHOUGH the official twinning ceremony is planned for next spring, village festival organisers are confident their link with a Canadian community is well and truly under way.

This follows a successful visit by representatives from the Annapolis Valley Appleblossom Festival, Kentville, Nova Scotia to meet as many people as possible involved with the Goosnargh and Whittingham Whitsuntide Festival.

Tony and Holly Stephenson, who help organise the Appleblossom Festival, decided to carry out the recce prior to next year’s Goosnargh and Whittingham Festival on Saturday, June 2 at which Canadian representatives will be present to witness the official twinning of the two festivals.

And the visit went swimmingly.

Festival secretary Stephanie Butters said the community totally embraced the couple who, in turn, were said to be overwhelmed by the friendliness and welcome shown.

Their stay included visits to the parishes’ three primary schools of Goosnargh Oliverson’s, St Francis’s and Whitechapel; an invitation to the Mayor’s Parlour in Preston and evenings with the Cecilian Singers Preston North Rotary Club and festival representatives.

Tony, a musician and musical director of the Appleblossom Festival was particularly interested in the musical side of things and Holly, who works as a director of special needs education, was fascinated to be able to visit the schools.

The Stephensons were said to be thrilled with everything and Stephanie would like to say “a massive thank you” to everyone for making them feel so welcome, be it Andy Thiele for transporting them wherever they needed to go; Paul at The Green Man for putting on a Lancashire Night; Louise Chadwick for putting on the evening with the Rotarians; Edwina Starkie for organising the Cecilian connection, or Sheila Birkby for rooting out her history of the festival.

“Nobody was asked to do anything, people just came out of the woodwork. Everyone gave 110 per cent, far more than we were expecting.

“Already the twinning is happening before we have done it. There seem to be so many areas where we can learn from each other and we can’t wait to set it in stone,” she said.

Besides the twinning, next year’s Goosnargh and Whittingham Festival will be known as the Guild Festival in recognition of 2012 being Preston Guild. It will also be an extra special occasion as all past festival queens are invited to attend.

The next major task for the festival is to look for the 2012 queen - a high school pupil aged from 11-15 years who is resident in the parishes of Goosnargh or Whittingham.

All names will be put into a hat during the special festival concert on January 29, 2012 and reigning queen Phoebe Collin invited to pull one out at random.