Civic leaders from Ilkley and Coutances in Normandy got together last week to celebrate 40 years of being twin towns.

A delegation of ten, led by the deputy mayor of Coutances and the president of Coutances’ own twinning committee, came to Ilkley on Friday, staying until Sunday.

They were welcomed to the town with the unusual sight of the French tricoleur flying over Brook Street.

A civic reception took place at Ilkley Town Hall on Friday attended by around 50 people, including members of both twinning committees, councillors and those who would like to develop friend-ships with the residents of Coutances.

During the course of their stay, the French visitors were taken to Unesco World Heritage site at Saltaire and Salts Mill.

They also visited Bolton Abbey and the scenic riverside spot The Strid, and attended a Friday evening Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts event, which was sponsored by Ilkley Parish Council.

The official civic dinner took place at Rombalds Hotel on Saturday, attended by the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Coun John Godward, Ilkley Parish Council chairman, Coun Alan Morrell, and their consorts.

Both civic heads were in their first week of office and expressed their desire to see relationships with Countances continue to flourish.

Before their departure on Sunday, the French delegation were invited to lunch at the home of Coun Anne Hawkes-worth and her husband, John.

The French visitors were hosted by members of the twinning committee.

Ilkley’s twinning committee said: “These visits from Coutances are not a ‘free jolly’ provided by tax payers for those involved at this end. Ilkley members willingly covered their own expenses in hosting our friends from Coutances.”

The committee is keen to include more Ilkley people in developing relationships with Coutances.

Anyone interested in joining the twinning association is asked to contact the secretary, Margaret Smith, on 01943 601336.

Ilkley Twinning Committee’s annual general meeting will take place in the Council Chamber, Ilkley Town Hall, on Thursday, July 16, starting at 7.30pm.

A detailed report of the recent visit will be given at this meeting, and discussions will take place on the development of future civic and personal relationships with Coutances.