August 17, 1951 - Le Monde Bilingue formed to build a world where men and women can understand one another.
July 1955 - Gosport Borough Council received a letter from La Monde Bilingue asking it to take part in the United Towns Scheme.
May 27, 1957 - Gosport Borough Council requested further information about the Twin Towns scheme.
October 7, 1958 - Gosport's Town Clerk received a letter from Guy Moss, Chairman of the British Bilingual Association, stating that Royan wanted to twin with Gosport. November 10, 1958 - Twinning link with Royan unanimously approved by Gosport Borough Council.
January, 1959 - Gosport Twinning Committee formed. July 15, 1959 - Formal Twinning Ceremony held in Gosport.
April 29, 1973 - Gosport Ferry Gardens renamed Royan Gardens.
May, 2009 - We commemorated the 50th year of the Twinning. A civic ceremony ending with the signing of a new charter pledging support and co-operation between the two towns took place. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the twinning of Gosport with Royan a new plaque was unveiled on the 22nd May 2009 - Esplanade de Royan.
Links were established between towns and villages on both sides of the Channel so that the residents could better appreciate each other's culture and way of life. These links came to be known as Twinning - Jumelage. The first true twinning between the civic authorities of a French and an English town took place in 1953 between Luchon, a small resort in the Pyrenees and the spa town of Harrogate.The United Towns Organisation had its origin in a meeting in Paris on the 17th August 1951, between Jean-Marie Bressand, a member of General de Gaulle's Free French Forces in England and Algeria, and a group of friends from the Resistance whom he had met after being parachuted into France in 1944. They founded Le Monde Bilingue, which had the aim of building a world where men and women could understand one another.
In July 1955, Jean-Marie Bressand, by now Secretary General of Le Monde Bilingue, wrote to Gosport Borough Council pointing out that 18 British towns had already established twinning links and asking that the aims of twinning be placed before the Council's appropriate committee. Two years later on May 27, 1957 - Gosport Borough Council through its Town Clerk, wrote to M. Bresand requesting further information and stating that Councillors were most keen that any "twin" should be about the same size, and have the same interests, as Gosport. La Segne, near Toulon, Landerseau, Concarneau, Rochefort, Chatou, and St. Brieuc were all suggested, but for a variety of reasons considered unsuitable. Then the Chairman of the British Bilingual Association, Councillor Guy Moss, wrote to the Town Clerk that the Mayor of Royan had expressed a wish to twin with Gosport. Without hesitation, Gosport Councillors fell in with the suggestion and on the 10th November 1958, unanimously approved that all the necessary steps should be taken for the twinning of the two towns. An exchange of letters between the Mayors of the two towns followed and in January, 1959 Gosport Borough Council set up a Twinning Committee.A convention at Aix-les-Bains in 1957 laid down principles in a United Towns Charter. These defined twinnings as non-political acts, carried out by municipalities without state interference, with cultural links binding the towns together in a spirit of equality and friendship, and sporting and educational links establishing lasting friendships.
On July 15th. 1959, the formal Twinning of the two towns was forged at a special meeting of the Council to which the Mayor, Councillor C.W.L. Giles welcomed the Mayor of Royan, Admiral Hubert Meyer, as the leader of the Royannnais delegation. Councillor Giles and Admiral Meyer signed an illuminated charter, which was sealed with the Common Seal of Gosport, and which stated -
Since its inception, Gosport Twinning Committee has had only five secretaries - John Broadribb, a senior committee clerk at Gosport Town Hall, Margarete Killeen, who was John Broadribb's secretary and succeeded him on his retirement, Yvonne Poole, the Mayor's and Chief Executive's secretary, and Geoffrey O'Neill, an Honorary Alderman, former Mayor, and Director of Gosport Community Association. Under Geoff O'Neill's guidance, the Twinning Committee has expanded to include Bridge, Hornet Sailing Club, St. Vincent College, Soroptimists, French Circle, and golf. Di Dobinson has now taken over the reins as Secretary and Key Organiser to the Gosport / Royan Twinning Committee. It is the Key Organisers responsibility to assist the committee in making arrangements for the annual visits. Di has managed to encourage some new participants and helped organise a very successful twinning programme when we hosted our Royan visitors. Di has been instrumental in planning our Twinning visits to Royan. For many years, there were strong links between Bay House School, Gosport, and its opposite number in Royan. The late Donald Head was a leading advocate and organiser of this educational link, which had faded partly because of the cost falling on parents, and the fact that the French and English school holidays do not coincide. Those links were rekindled by Bay House School in 2014, the school now offers their French Language students a chance to take part in a cultural exchange. They can visit Royan and link up with pupils from a secondary school there, meet with their families and enjoy the new experience. The exchange is reciprocated for the Royannaise students.At Royan, visitors will find the Gosport Quay, while at the Ferry entrance to Gosport is Royan Garden with a plaque recording that on the 29th April 1973, the garden was named by Colonel Guy Buchet, an Assistant Mayor of Royan.
Over many years, Gosport's twinning link has been hailed as one of the best and one which more towns should copy, A former member of Gosport Twinning Committee went to live in Beccles a Suffolk village with a population of some 10,000, and helped set up a twinning link there. In 1993, in a national competition, Beccles' Twinning was acclaimed as the best in the country. In the same competition, Gosport was highly commended... C'est la vie.
"Gordon Webster, a former member of Gosport Borough Council, visited Royan in World War II. He was in the Royal Air Force flying Lysander aircraft, which carried arms to the Resistance and special agents into France. One of the agents he flew to Royan in 1944 was M. Jan de Lipowski, who became Mayor of Royan and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, in the French Government. They next met in 1989 in the grounds of Royan Town Hall when M. Lipowski was welcoming the Gosport delegation."