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BenBeau

Thornbridge Exchange trip to Alencon 1964

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Thornbridge School had a "twin" school in Alencon in Normandy and in 1964 students of the 2 schools (most of whom had corresponded as pen pals for a while) took part in an exchange.  I think we spent 2 weeks in France around Easter and then entertained "Les Francais" at the end of the summer term.  It was quite an adventure for me - I stayed with the Chenais family on Boulevard de la Republique with my host Pierre and his family, and was looked after very well.  Pierre had a pushbike which had a small petrol engine fixed to the front of it an, to help me keep up, he would give me a tow on another bike without an engine.I always thought the  idea of powering a bike was a good idea but I believe it was illegal in UK. 

We went on several trips when we were in France - to chateaux in the Loire - Azay le Rideau and Chenonceaux, a trip round the Le Mans circuit (sadly in a coach not a racing car), and my French family took me to Paris for a weekend where we stayed in a flat belonging to one of their relatives. 

I played a lot of tennis with Pierre and his friends during my visit. A "Thornbridge XI"  played a game of football against a school team - their first XI!! They beat us 6-4 but were kind to us, presumably part of the entente cordiale.  I can remember Andy Ellis and I preparing for the kick off when a "Fat bloke with a chain round his neck" walked through the mud to kick the ball away from our feet.  This was, in fact the Town Mayor.  I attach 2 photos (still looking for others) - one of Mr Snook and Miss Hannington having a last minute chat before we left Midland Station to set off and one of me stood on top of the Arc de Triomphe - flying the flag by wearing my school scarf!  The Eiffel Tower in the background.

jim pook and miss hannington.jpg

Ken atop Arc de Triomphe.jpg

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Hi BenBeau,

Looks if I missed out on that trip to France, I didn’t even know we had a twin school in Alençon, maybe they told us but I just wasn’t listening. And I was pretty hot at French, quite au fait with the language, as you can see. Miss Hannington taught us some of the time but in my last year they shipped in a genuine French teacher from the continent who was quick to recognise the raw talent I possessed and rewarded me with an AA report card and an O level pass. Sadly I only have the initials MJR to remember her by.

However, going back to the student exchange thing, I do recall my older brother entertaining a French student (male) at our home although I don’t think my brother ever went to France. I remember being envious of the musical instrument he constantly played which was a mouth piano. The Marseillaise never sounded so good!

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