It is part of the Urban Community of Lille Métropole.
The idea of ‘twinning’ was originally considered by the Birchington Parish Council in 1988. Following preliminary research and groundwork undertaken by then Councillors (the late) Peter Brill and Vic Adams – they looked for a town not too dissimilar to Birchington which was within ‘day trip’ distance.
They came across La Chapelle d’Armentieres who were themselves looking for a twin town. We seemed to fit their socio-economic ideals as well. After making positive contact with their French counterparts, the council decided to take a varied cross section of Birchington residents on a coach to see the town and meet the people. The Parish Council were very well aware that the whole village had to be in favour of the Twinning concept if it were to be a success.
So, in mid-January 1989 at the very early start of 4am, the coach set off. The welcome we received was overwhelming. The French were very keen to meet and impress us all. They had planned a whole day of receptions and tours of the local area – culminating in a very fine meal.
Feedback – especially from the Residents Association – was so positive that formal twinning planning was started straight away. The Parish Council, though, would obviously need help with every day running duties and at a packed meeting held at the Village Centre, a Committee was formed to initially help the Council with preparations for the Official Twinning ceremonies, but eventually to act as the facilitating link for the future on behalf of the Council itself.
The Birchington Twinning Association was therefore formed in 1989. Plans were quickly made. The proceedings in France took place in May 1989 and our own official ceremony on Dog Acre a month later in June.
The aims of the Association - to promote cultural and sporting links, as well as encourage school exchanges and to establish a better understanding between the two communities – has been ongoing and successful ever since.
(Notes extracted and adapted from a previous article by Kay Cowell)