WGTC played host to 70 Belgian guests over the weekend of the 29th and 30th June. Amongst the guests were 28 members Ploegsteert Harmonie Royale band, who came together with Wolverton Town Band for a 2-hour concert on Saturday evening.
The Civic Ceremony saw the reuniting of the bands and the bond of friendship was felt throughout the room. Speeches were given by the Mayor of Wolverton, the Alderman of Twinning and the President of the Patriotic Associations. Gifts were exchanged as cake (supplied by Dotty Bakes) was cut and champagne flowed. The evening ended with a beautiful meal at Wolverton House where the manager and staff pulled out all the stops to serve the 100+ participants of our event.
On Sunday residents would have heard, if not seen, Ploegsteert Harmonie Royale Band marching from the Town Hall to Wolverton Square, where they joined Wolverton Town Band and Wolverton Air Cadets who were led by Derek Goodman, Pilot Officer. The celebration of the twinning of the towns was marked by the service at the Memorial, led by Francois Maekelberg, President of the Patriotic Associations. Once again, the two bands performed magnificently, entertaining the large audience. Once the service had ended, fish and chips followed by ice cream was served.
My wife Kay and I returned from a wonderful twinning weekend in Belgium. It was a three-day, packed weekend trip. Amongst the 62 attendees were, apart from the committee, the Mayor of Wolverton and a detachment of the Wolverton Air Training Corps.
When we arrived in Belgium by coach, we went to our hotel to book in, and then straight to Ypres, where we went to the Menin Gate. At 8 pm, there was a Wreath laying, where wreaths were laid by some committee members, the Mayor of Wolverton, and the A.T.C. The A.T.C. were all in Uniform, and included a Standard Bearer. They were all incredibly smart and were a credit to the A.T.C. and Wolverton. At 8 p.m. on the dot, the Last Post was sounded by four buglars from the same Belgian family. This ceremony is performed every day, 365 days a year, and is incredibly moving. The Menin Gate is amazing and contains the names of thousands of allied troops who died at Ypres during the first World War, and for whom there in no known grave.
On the Saturday, in the evening, we went to Comines Town hall for a Civic Reception, with the Mayor of Comines, where gifts were exchanged.
On the Sunday Morning, we went to the War Cemetery at Plugstreet, where we visited the grave of Private Albert French. At 11 a.m. that morning a ceremony was performed at the graveside which included wreath laying, a Belgian band who also played the Last Post, The British National Anthem, The French National Anthem and other tunes. There were also six Belgian standard bearers and the Mayors of Wolverton and Comines. It was an incredibly moving Ceremony, especially as it was the 100th Anniversary of the end of the Great War. Would we go on another trip like this? You try and stop us.
-Barrie and Kay Jones