Inverurie recently welcomed Stéphane Barthe, Deputy Mayor of the small French town, Bagnères de Bigorre, when he visited the area as part of a fact finding tour.
Bagnères De Bigorre was identified as a possible twin for Inverurie by members of the local community several months ago. The Deputy Mayor visited Inverurie a part a of pre-planned trip to the UK and spent Friday and Saturday getting to know the area.
Susan Adams, Garioch area project officer, who facilitated the visit said: “It is a great opportunity for Inverurie and we can learn a good deal by being twinned with a town such as this.
“As this visit was added to a pre-planned UK trip for Mr Barthe, we only had a short time to put together a programme of events and this is a fantastic example of how Aberdeenshire Council, local community groups and local businesses can work together.”
She continued: “Mr Barthe commented on how he felt the strong sense of community in Inverurie and was humbled by the welcome he received
During the tour he met with Deputy Provost Allison Grant, local councillors Martin Kitt-Hayes and Bryan Stuart, Area Committee Officer Alison Cumming and Senior Planner Malcolm White, where he was able to find out about plans for the development of Inverurie, the function of the Garioch Area Committee and wider information about local democracy.
Mr Barthe was also welcomed by Judy Whyte of Mitchells Dairy where he learned a bit about the history of Mitchells and was able to see the popular handmade Mitchells’ Oatcakes being made on the premises.
Mrs Whyte was also able to explain about the role of the Inverurie Business Association and Inverurie 4U in terms of promoting the town as shopping destination.
He then met with Inverurie Golf Club Manger, Paul Douglas and was introduced to the Club, where he learned about the history of the golf in the area and was presented with a copy of newly published book covering the first 90 years History of Inverurie Golf Club.
Paul said, “Mr Barthe was clearly very impressed at the size of the golf club and the facilities available to the local community and was able to contrast the that with the club in his region which was a private enterprise supported by government funding. Golf is clearly a sport gaining popularity in France but perhaps not quite the national sport it is in Scotland.”
Continuing the sporting theme, the Garioch Sports Centre was next on the agenda. Mr Barthe was given an informative, enthusiastic tour of the Centre by Co-General Manager, Kevin Bonarius and also had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Garioch Community Sports Hub, including chair Trevor Hart
Susan Adams explained, “Mr Barthe commented during the tour that Bagnères de Bigorre did not have a sports facility on this scale and was very impressed by the history of how the Sports Centre was set up and continues to run under the Sport Trust.”
Mr Barthe was also given a tour of Inverurie Academy, where, as a teacher himself, he had a particular interest in the education system in Scotland.
Neil Baillie, Inverurie Events was able to give Mr Barthe a wider tour of Inverurie and proudly showed him a number of features including, Thainstone Mart, the redeveloped site of the Loco Works and Uryside Development, explaining about plans for the forthcoming Uryside Park.
The visit was rounded off by a meeting with representatives from Inverurie Community Council, Inverurie Men’s Shed, Garioch Heritage Society and Girlguiding Gordon.
A return visit to Bagnères De Bigorre has been arranged for mid August, at which point a decision will be taken by Inverurie local community and residents of Bagnères De Bigorre whether to go ahead with the twinning projewct.