FELICITATIONS, the good folk of Bedale are set to adopt a twin French town, Azay-Sur-Cher, joining an extensive list of fellow British towns which have formed links with communities across the water in all kinds of directions. And with Brexit raging around us, it's interesting that a French community over 650 miles away should approach the town to be friends.

Wikipedia says twinning is creating a legal or social agreement between towns, cities, counties and even countries in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.

They go back deep into the annals of history to 836 when Paderborn, Germany and Le Mans in France were the first in europe to agree to be twins, but that sadly, was obviously scuppered by ongoing future rivalries between the two countries. Keighley in West Yorkshire had one of the first known arrangements in England with the French communities of Suresnes and Puteaux in 1905, but it really took hold, probably for very obvious reasons, after the Second World War in 1947 when it was intended to foster friendship and understanding between different cultures and former foes as an act of peace and reconciliation.

And since then many, many have been forged between communities across Europe and beyond, thousands probably, there doesn't seem to be a real definitive list. For Bedale,we believe it's the first time they've been approached, for some neighbours, Northallerton and Richmond, have long standing connections, Darlington has two twins, but the heavyweight in the town twinning stakes has to be Whitby which has eight including two in Australia and two in the USA. So we say to Bedale bonne chance with your new venture.