Countdown to twinning ceremony

Phil Mills-Bishop during the live link-up with Paris
Phil Mills-Bishop during the live link-up with Paris

Stonehaven’s forthcoming twinning with a French town has won Scottish Government support.

Official links with Acheres will be signed in the Paris suburb in May.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has congratulated all who have played their part in bringing the initiative to this stage.

The Holyrood backing came as a French breakfast briefing was held in Stonehaven - including a live link-up to an Acheres representative in Paris - ahead of next month’s signing ceremony.

A six-strong delegation, headed by Stonehaven and District Community Council chairman Phil Mills-Bishop, will attend from May 18-21 to formally seal the twinning link.

Mr Mills-Bishop, who organised the French-themed briefing in Molly’s last Friday, told the Leader: “We have set ourselves fair for when the delegation goes over to Acheres.

“Particularly when we did the link-up with the French representative, I think that brought it home to everybody that we really are at the start of something quite special and that has taken it up to another level in terms of it being a successful initiative.

“But we are only at the start and we have got to keep that energy, that support going after the delegation comes back and also when the Mayor of Acheres comes over in July.”

Mayor Marc Honore will be in Stonehaven to conclude the agreement on July 7-8.

In a letter, Fiona Hyslop said: “France and Scotland boast cultural, economic and diplomatic bonds dating back centuries.

“The Scottish Government is committed to building on these deep historic links and to advancing co-operation with France further.

“I congratulate the local authorities, associations and volunteers that have contributed to the signing of the twinning charter.”

The initiative is set to give tourism opportunities in the North-east a major boost.

North East Scotland Conservative MSP Liam Kerr said: “The twinning itself is focused by this event. It’s the sense of community, the fact that so many different agencies, so many parts of the community, have come together to make this happen.

“What we can look forward to is the communities of Acheres and Stonehaven getting together and really making great things happen for this area economically and socially.”

Angus North and Mearns SNP MSP Mairi Gougeon added: “There is such a diverse range of people involved from schools, local businesses and the tourism sector.

“There are so many people that want to make this work and I think that’s what’ll make the difference with this twinning arrangement.”