April: a celebration of 25 years of twinning between Hexham and Noyon was held in Hexham. A total of 43 adults and six children from Noyon with 41 Hexham hosts and six children joined in the weekend. Hexham mayor Trevor Cessford hosted a reception in Hexham Abbey’s Great Hall, guests were piped in by a Northumbrian piper and later a commemorative seat was unveiled on Beaumont Street. An English sparkling wine tasting, a town trail quiz and special screenings at the Forum Cinema provided a range of choices on the Saturday and on the Sunday a total of 106 people were served a special three-course luncheon at Langley Castle.

June: Metzingen hosted a European Town Twinning Weekend (the 'Big Event'), where over 300 participants from her 3 twin towns, Hexham, Noyon and Nagykálló in Hungary gathered to celebrate friendship, co-operation and the joy of music. Hexham’s contingent of 30 included 16 members of the Hexham Village Band who played in impromptu gigs around the town. The programme included a celebratory meal with musical entertainment, an ecumenical church service in St. Martinskirche, an outing to Hayingen and Zwiefalten with a typical Swabian lunch and an open-air concert in the town’s Kelternplatz.


German and French Movie Screenings
L'Auberge Espagnole (Pot Luck) - film mostly in French with sub-titles, September
Dheepan - film in French and Tamil with sub-titles, June
The Wave (Die Welle) - film in German with sub-titles, June

p1090385 orig origThe reception in the Beaumont Hotel.September

Hexham Town Twinning Association has hosted another very successful visit from their German twin town, Metzingen, a town once known as a wine-producer but one that today is more renowned for its designer label outlet stores, notably Hugo Boss.

Links with Metzingen go back 27 years but the passage of time has in no way diminished the enthusiasm of members in forging strong links between ordinary individuals in both towns. In fact Hexham’s co-chair, Mon Richford, emphasised how important these fundamental contacts are in the post-Brexit era: “the flame of town twinning burns as strongly as ever”, she asserted in her speech at the reception given by Hexham’s mayor, Trevor Cessford in honour of the German guests at the Beaumont Hotel on Saturday. Chair of Metzingen’s twinning association Dr Fritz Kemmler reminded guests of how bureaucratic and complicated it had once been to travel to Britain from Germany; a process none would wish to return to in this age of easy travel across Europe’s frontiers.

​It seems that town-twinning is not just about building links with Hexham’s two twin towns, it is also about creating new links within the local community here. Chris Milner, chief executive of the Hextol Foundation, had been specially invited, along with his wife Helen, its project director, to receive in person a donation from Metzingen Town Council and its Twinning Association. Other invited guests included Ruth Sutton and Tim Stephenson of Hexham Brass, a group that hopes to attend a big musical event being organised in Metzingen next June.

p1090398 orig origFor the German visitors the weekend offered all that could be expected of a trip to Hexham: variable weather yet a warm welcome and unbeatable hospitality. It’s no wonder that some of the visitors now know the region almost as well as the locals after their repeated trips here. The highlight of the weekend this year was a Sunday trip to Amble and the Northumberland coast: delicious fish and chips, followed by an exploration of Warkworth Castle. The rousing finale was an evening ceilidh in Hexham Community Centre with music provided by the Hexham Village Band, another group that hopes to attend the musical event in Metzingen next year.


Forty-three people from Hexham and District visited Noyon. This turned out to be a very musical week-end with members of Hexham Village Band playing at every opportunity, on the ferry, busking in front of Noyon’s Town Hall, at the Reception, during our visit to Compiègne, on Saturday evening by the canal and on Sunday for the dancing-‘they provided great entertainment throughout the week-end’ as sixth former, Caitlin Bell reported.

The visitors thought that their hosts were very welcoming and one member was ‘blown away by their friendliness and hospitality. Another commented on their ‘friendly, kind and generous hosts’. People felt that they ‘got on well even with the lack of English [by the French] and the lack of French [by the English].

In his welcoming speech at the reception on the Saturday, the Mayor of Noyon, Patrick Deguise commented on our shared values and culture and hoped that our friendships would continue whatever the result of the Referendum in June. He mentioned the long-term connections and hoped that young people would get more involved. He also referred to the peace in Europe for many years. Hexham’s Mayor, Trevor Cessford, referred to the use of social media by young people and valued face to face communication. He also referred to the contacts that had been built up over the years.

Visitors commented on Noyon’s beautiful town with its impressive cathedral. We visited the Palace of Compiègne, originally a royal hunting lodge used by Louis XIV and rebuilt by Louis XV and then Napoleon I and renovated by Napoleon III. Much of the furniture was removed during the French Revolution and replaced by Napoleon III. The Empress Marie-Louise’s bedroom and reception rooms were very sumptuous and the ballroom, with its crystal chandeliers, was impressive.

We were entertained very well by our hosts, with convivial meals with their friends, delicious food and of course wine. Perhaps the highlight of our visit was the ceilidh on Sunday with two bands, The Hexham Village Band and The Bog Frogs, an Irish/French/American Band. Our party were surprised when two members of our party, namely the Mayor of Hexham, Trevor Cessford gave us ‘a hearty song’ and Penny Grennan sang a more soulful song. French and English joined together in the dancing instructed in French and in English by David Oliver, accompanied by Hexham Village Band.

To quote another member new to the twinning experience, ‘an amazing experience and unique in giving a brief glimpse of life in a relatively small French town. It shows the things that bind us are so much stronger then the differences of language and history’.

We hope that more people will join with us in the future to enjoy such experiences together.


September: exhibition of World War 1: Voices & Choices, describing the impact of war on men, women and children living in Hexham and its twin towns Noyon and Metzingen. Undertaken by a group of Hexham Quakers, it had involved visiting and collating evidence from all three twin towns. Originally shown in Hexham Abbey, it subsequently toured to both Noyon and Metzingen before returning for an encore at Hexham.

July: ​we were invited by the Oberbürgermeister of Metzingen, Dr. Ulrich Fiedler, to the 25th anniversary of the promotion of Metzingen to a Große Kreisstadt, celebrated the day before the start of their Heimatfest, a celebration of homeland, which is now held every three years in Metzingen. A party of eleven people from Hexham and the surrounding area and the Mayor of Hexham Trevor Cessford participated in the festivities. We joined a party from Metzingen’s twin town in Hungary, Nagykálló and many residents of Metzingen on a warm Friday evening, sitting at long tables in the Kelternplatz, the mains quare, and were welcomed by Dr. Fiedler, who followed tradition by opening the first cask of beer. A brass band of young people played while we ate Rotwurst and drank German beer.

The following day we felt priviledged to carry our Hexham Town Twinning banner behind the Bürgermeister and his town councillors, the Mayor of Nagykálló and the Mayor of Hexham at the head of the procession. Members of the Twinning Association, including Caitlin Bell from Q.E. High School, also carried the Northumbrian flag. 3,000 people including 2,200 children from nursery-school age to secondary-school age, many in fancy dress, took part in the procession round the central part of the town. All along the route were people smiling and clapping. It wasn’t until we were invited to join the mayors on a platform erected in the main square that we became aware of the length of the procession. We were amazed at the variety and creativity of the children’s costumes.

Children who went to a first school where building work was being carried out were dressed as workmen and carried plastic hammers and other implements and bricks. Intermittently we were showered with water bombs by schoolchildren and sprayed with water by firemen and by some gardeners with watering cans. Even pairs of horses pulling wagons representing farming activities or charcoal burning were dressed up wearing special hats. Young gymnasts in a group were very energetic, performing somersaults along the way and another group in traditional costumes threw large banners in the air and caught them. Every so often another brass band came along in which young people were well represented. It was a very happy occasion for the town and visitors.

The following day Hexham Town Twinners and their hosts were taken by coach through the lovely Swabian countryside to Steinhausen to visit the Rococo, highly decorated parish church of St. Peter and St. Paul, built in 1729-30, then went to eat a hearty meal at a nearby brewery in Bad Schussenried. We also visited another Baroque church, St. Oswald’s, nearby which had connections with St. Oswald’s at Heavenfield.

May: visit from Noyon including some families with children.


November: a group of 17 people from Metzingen came to Hexham to celebrate the 25th anniversary of twinning between the two towns. The group included a party of students who had taken part in a joint Art competition, twelve shortlisted entries were on display in the Forum café and prizes were awarded. A Hexham-Metzingen anniversary seat on Beaumont Street and a signpost in the Market Place displaying distances to Metzingen and Noyon were both unveiled. There was a group visit to Durham.

May: Hexham visit to Noyon, with a dinner and dance at Yves Guyon Culture Centre, a scenic steam train ride through the Somme valley and a visit to the Historial of Péronne, a famous museum dedicated to the armies of WW1 with all displays annotated in French, English and German.
Carola Prior Attree and Karl Weitnauer cut the cake to mark the 25th anniversary of the town twinning
The Hexham-Metzingen anniversary seat on Beaumont Street being dedicated during a visit by Metzingers.


November-December: 14 members from Hexham visited Metzingen, timed to visit Stuttgart’s famous Christmas market. They were also treated to a wine tasting evening sampling various Metzingen wines.

May: celebration of 21 years of Hexham-Noyon twinning with a visit of 45 Noyonnais, including 9 young people. The programme, arranged in conjunction with Hexham Community Partnership, included an art trail with workshops and talks, an exhibition within the Abbey of work by both Hexham and Noyon amateur artists, a showing of Hexham-based Théâtre sans Frontières French e-learning project Le Tour de France, a ceilidh in Hexham Middle school and a visit to Durham.


October: 22 people, including the mayor Dr. Fiedler, a council representative, the head of Metzingen High School and several students, visited Hexham. David Hindley was presented with the Metzinger Bürgermedaille in a special ceremony at the Beaumont Hotel. There was a day trip to Tynemouth to visit the indoor market and Tynemouth Priory and to lunch on traditional fish and chips.

April: the 20th anniversary of Noyon-Hexham partnership was celebrated at Noyon. 31 Hexham members, including 4 sixth-formers, arrived by air + rail or by car. The highlight was a coach trip to Paris that included a boat trip on the river Seine and lunch at the Bistrot Romain by the Champs Elysées.


October: 13 people visited Metzingen including the Mayor Rad Hare and wife Pat and one student from QEHS. Also present were Chairman Mon Richford and her husband Paul, and Cathy Booth, the co-ordinator for Metzingen. The evening was spent at the Weinfest and there was a visit to Esslingen.

April: 50 visitors came from Noyon including many families with young children. Meal at the George, Chollerford and visit to Chesters. Ceilidh at Corbridge Middle School.


October: visitors from Metzingen including 12 young people. Meal at The Anglers Arms Rothbury and visit to Cragside.

May: Hexham visit to Noyon, with a tour to Chantilly for lunch and to see the château.


October: 16 Hexham members visited Metzingen. The programme included a guided tour of Metzingen with its seven wine presses and the retail outlet centre, a visit to the annual wine festival, the Kelternfest. There was also a day-trip to Maulbronn, a Cistercian monastery.

April: 39 adults and 11 young people from Noyon visited Hexham, spending a day in Alnwick with lunch at the Cook and Barker, Newton-on-the-Moor and a ceilidh in the Masonic Hall.


April: 31 Metzingen visitors came to Hexham, including Deputy Mayor Dietmar Betz and many young people. Visit to Vindolanda, Hadrian’s Wall and Carvoran, lunch at a pub. There was a ceilidh with Hedgehog Skin band at the Masonic Hall.

April: 39 people went to Noyon including Hexham Courant Reporter Rebecca Dixon. There was a trip to Pierrefonds with food and a visit to the castle, where filming was taking place for ‘Merlin’. There was a ceilidh in Le Chevalet on the Sunday evening.


November: exhibition of photos in Hexham Library on Town Twinning with Metzingen and Noyon.

October: a party of 16 from Hexham, including 3 sixth-formers, visited Metzingen. The days included a trip to Bebenhausen Monastery, some Swabian dishes in Tübingen, a visit to the Weinfestand and wine tasting with food.

May: 42 visitors came from Noyon, enjoying a visit to Wallington and a ceilidh in the Masonic Hall with the Hedgehog Skin band; there was a buffet supper.


July: stall at Hexham Carnival displaying posters and photos of visits to twin towns with Ruth Bramfitt, Ann Oliver and Kaye Clark.

April: Hexham visit to Noyon. A tree planted in remembrance of Bertrand Labarre and John Lynch. There was a visit to Senlis and the Abbaye de Royaumont. J.B. Jonas and wife attended. Ceilidh with ‘Over the Moon’ Band.


October: Meeting between David Oliver, Ruth Bramfitt and Tony Webster at QEHS High School on links with twin towns, including a possible link with Metzingen High School. Discussed exchanges with specific focus such as sports teams, drama groups, musicians and choirs, advertising activities in QEHS Bulletin and use of QEHS video conferencing facilities.

June: visit to Metzingen. 25th anniversary of Metzingen’s twinning with Noyon, 15 years of Hexham’s twinning with Metzingen, 13 years of Metzingen’s twinning with Nagykálló, Hungary. Ian Hepple, Michael Way and representatives of Churches Together in Hexham including Rev. Dagmar Winter attended. Dieter Hauswirth was the Burgermeister. Visit to Ulm and Blaubeeren and Hoheneuffen Castle.

March: party of 39 visitors from Noyon to Hexham. Visit to Beamish on Saturday. Ceilidh in the Masonic Hall on Sunday. Mayor of Hexham: Ingrid Whale. Noyon’s Deputy Mayor: Gerard Deguise.


September: 12 adults and 1 child visited from Metzingen. There was a lunch in The County Hotel. Mayor of Hexham: Ingrid Whale. Councillor Peter Reiff represented the Bürgermeister. The visitors attended the Candlelit Concert in Hexham Abbey.

May: David Oliver in Noyon to celebrate 25 years of twinning between Noyon and Metzingen.

April: 43 from Hexham visited Noyon including the Mayor, Ingrid Whale, and members of Hexham Youth Initiative. Visit to St. Quentin and La Familistère social palace at Guise. Supper and dancing at Le Chavelet on Sunday evening.

March: exhibition about Hexham Town Twinning in Hexham Library.


October: 20 people from Hexham visited Metzingen, where there were also visitors from Noyon. Visit to the opening of the Weinfest and to Bad Urach.

April: celebration of 10 years of twinning with Noyon. 56 members and 35 members of Harmonie came and there was a concert in the Queen’s Hall on Saturday.


October: 20 visitors from Metzingen to Hexham. Visit to the Baltic and Alnwick Garden.

April: visit to Noyon for the 10th anniversary of twinning between Noyon and Hexham. A park bench was donated to Noyon. Hexham Mayor: Kaye Clark.


October: 25 visitors from Hexham to Metzingen attended the Weinfest.

June: 36 visitors from Noyon who attended a ceilidh at the Torch Centre. They enjoyed lunch at The Beaumont Hotel followed by a visit to Vindolanda.


September: visitors from Metzingen attended the Candlelit Concert in Hexham Abbey. A ceilidh was held in the Winter Gardens, QEHS, [nibbles were provided, guests brought their own wine]. Mayor of Hexham: George Ferguson.

August:13 visitors to Noyon for the Eclipse.

April: 40 visitors from Hexham to Noyon.


May: visit to Metzingen for the celebration of 20 years of twinning Metzingen with Noyon, 10 years with Hexham, 7 years with Nagykálló. There was a Jubilee Ball on the Saturday, and on Sunday the Art Market [Kunstmarkt]. A park bench was donated from Hexham to Metzingen.

April: visitors from Noyon went to Raby Castle and attended a ceilidh at the Community Centre.


July: 40 visitors from Metzingen including Herr Herzig participated in the Hexham Fair Parade. Hexham Mayor: Mrs. Hutchinson. A ceilidh was held in the Winter Gardens at QEHS.

April: 40 people from Hexham including 12 from QEHS Sixth Form visited Noyon, with a visit to Compiègne near Noyon.


October: 17 visitors from Hexham to Metzingen enjoyed visits to the Binhof at Neuhausen, to the Weinfest and to Stuttgart Art Gallery. Irmela Lehman, Information Officer, was involved.

September: during a visit by 72 members and relatives of the Posaunanchor, Neuhausen, the group played in the bandstand in Hexham and in St. Mary’s Church.

May: 43 visitors from Noyon to Hexham enjoyed a visit to Alnwick Castle and a social evening in Corbridge Parish Hall.


September: Metzingen visitors to Hexham enjoyed a visit to Raby Castle, a Northern Symphonia Concert and a ceilidh in Corbridge Village Hall.

June: visit by Rotarians from Brande in Denmark, welcomed by the Mayor of Hexham, Norman Reed.

April: 58 visitors from Hexham to Noyon.


October: 32 visitors from Noyon. Visit to Durham. Social evening at Corbridge Village Hall.

May: 17 Hexham visitors were in Metzingen, including a visit to Ludwigsberg and Esslingen.

April: Noyon came to Hexham.


September: 52 visitors from Metzingen visited Hexham and attended the Candlelit Concert in Hexham Abbey and visited Beamish Museum.

July: visit of Noyon Children’s Council to Hexham.

April: visit of Hexham to Noyon. Visit to Compiègne.


September: a visit to Metzingen included the Hexham Morris Men.

April: 60 visitors from Noyon to Hexham included the orchestra Harmonie. The official signing took place at the Wentworth attended by two reprersentatives from Brande in Denmark. There was a visit to Belsay Hall.


July: visitors from Brande, Metzingen and Noyon to Hexham. Visit to Wallington, lunch at Middle School, reception at the race course, barbecue and parade. Money received from the European Commission.

June: visit by Rotarians from Brande in Denmark to Hexham. Hexham Middle School established link with Brande.

March: A party that included Hexham Morris Men visited Noyon for the official signing of Hexham-Noyon town twinning agreement.


October: official delegation from Noyon to Hexham which included the Mayor, Bertrand Labarre and Jean Marie Lelong, President of Twinning. John Lynch was the Mayor of Hexham.

September: meeting between Hexham and Metzingen officials in Hexham. There was interest in the idea of Metzingen clubs linking with Hexham clubs.

September: 51 visitors from Metzingen. A ceilidh was held with Hedgehog Skin band led by David Oliver.


November: Hexham Town Twinning Association committee decided to recommend to the town council that the connection with St. Lunaire be terminated as there had been no response to correspondence for some time.

August: visit to Hexham of Bertrand Labarre, Mayor of Noyon.

April: official signing of Metzingen-Hexham town twinning agreement in Metzingen. A party of 40 people, including a team of footballers, travelled from Hexham by coach and ferry to attend the ceremony.


November: a visit to Hexham from Brande in Denmark arranged by Rotary.

June: while in Metzingen attending 10th anniversary celebrations of the twinning between Noyon and Metzingen, David Oliver (then chair of Hexham Town Twinning Association) was in discussion with the Mazor of Noyon, Bertrand Labarre, about a possible link between Noyon and Hexham. At the time, however, Hexham was still officially twinned with St. Lunaire in Britanny.

March: official signing in Hexham of the Hexham-Metzingen town twinning agreement between the mayors, Ian Hepple and Gotthard Herzig. The Metzingen party included 18 folk dancers and 48 Metzingen Band members.


March: exploratory visit by Metzingen delegates to Hexham, including the Bürgermeister Gotthard Herzig. The visit included 27 members of Metzingen Chamber Orchestra and students who were hosted by pupils from Queen Elizabeth High School. The delegation met the Mayor of Hexham, Ian Hepple.