This week we will be looking back to a twinning association which is celebrating a big milestone.

Beaminster and District Twinning Group and St. James in Normandy are celebrating the 40 year anniversary of the Twinning friendship between the two towns.

The information and pictures for this piece have been donated by Tony and Margaret Greenham.

Twenty five Twinners from the Beaminster group travelled by coach and ferry earlier this month to St. James in Normandy to celebrate the occasion.

The two groups originally started communication from 1978, when a group in Beaminster decided to join the association.

Current president of the Beaminster and District Twinning Association, Margaret Greenham and her husband, Tony, have been involved with the group since its formation.

Margaret said: "In 1977 I was approached by David Jones to know if Tony and I were interested in starting a twinning association in Beaminster.

"We immediately said yes.

"The people of Beaminster and the surrounding area were then invited to a meeting in the public hall where a vote was taken to twin with one of three French towns recommended to us by the Twinning Association in London.

"A committee was formed and I was elected onto it.

"In June 1978, three of us, David Jones, Gemma Wood and myself visited St. James in Normandy, one of the three French towns suggested to Beaminster.

"We were delighted with the town and the hospitality of the people.

"They welcomed us with open arms, showing us many places of interest including The American Military Cemetery.

"Before we left, we invited St. James to a charter signing ceremony between the two towns to be held in Beaminster Square on September, 16 1978.

"Since then the Twinning Association has been going from strength to strength."

Since their first meeting, members have seen the United Kingdom be part of the European Economic Community (then the European Union), before the Brexit vote in 2016.

Members from Beaminster visited St. James to commemorate the 40 years of twinning earlier this month, from Thursday, May 10 until Sunday, May 13.

The group arrived at the town hall and were welcomed by the mayor and other officials, who were presented with a copy of a book which had been produced by Beaminster to mark the milestone.

On the Friday, the hosts arranged for the Beaminster group to visit the Caen Memorial and Museum.

Chairman Valerie Jepps said: "The impressive but harrowing exhibition left us in a sombre mood, however we brightened up when we arrived at a nearby park, shared a picnic lunch and explored the gardens in beautiful sunshine."

On the return journey, members stopped for an hour in the market town of Avranches where they had an impressive view of Mont St Michel.

On Friday evening, there was a celebration, where speeches and gifts were exchanged at the beginning of the official dinner.

St. James presented Beaminster with an inscribed bell and were given in return a specially designed flag.

Beaminster Twinners had produced a suitably decorated cake, which was cut and shared with coffee, before the evening continued with music and dancing.

Members had another early start on Saturday, when a full morning of commemorations had been arranged.

The groups met at the mairie (town hall), where a parade assembled, which then processed to various locations around the town, stopping to complete a variety of ceremonies on the way.

Leading the parade were six school children, carrying the tri-colour and the Union Flag, followed by an enthusiastic brass band, six standard bearers and then the twinners led by the two lady mayors from St. James and the Beaminster President, Margaret Greenham and chairman Valerie Jepps, alongside St. James president M. Yannick Duval, chairman M Christophe Duhamel and other officials from the St. James and District.

Firstly the procession stopped at the town cemetery, where the Beaminster Twinners laid floral tributes on the graves of five founder members.

The group then continued to the war memorial, where a short ceremony was held with the six standard bearers being joined by war veterans.

Sam Trott from Drimpton carried the Beaminster Royal British Legion standard, with wreaths laid and the national anthems were played.

The procession then returned to the town hall, where Beaminster members unveiled their gift to St. James, a sundial, and enjoyed a 'vin d'honneur' together.

The remaining time was spent with the host families, exploring the Normandy Countryside, before a rendezvous to say farewell after celebrating 40 years of friendship.

Margaret, who was made honorary citizen of the town of St. James, and awarded a medal for her services to the Twinning Organisations of St. James and Beaminster and District in 2003, is still the president of the group today.

Margaret said: "Never did I think then that forty years later Tony and I would still be enjoying visiting St James, staying with the same lovely family all 40 years.

"I hope the twinning in Beaminster and District will continue for many years to come.

"Vive Beaminster Vive St. James."