Twinning - http://www.altontwinning.org.uk/
Twinned – Alton, Montecchio Maggiore and Pertuis
In 1995 the then Town Mayor of Alton, Councillor Peter Whitmarsh, convened a meeting of representatives of organisations interested in twinning Alton with another European town. Details of various towns of the same size and background as Alton were examined and Montecchio Maggiore in the Italian province of Veneto was chosen, situated about 10km west of Vicenza and less than an hour’s drive from Verona, Venice and Padua.
Population and history are similar to Alton’s except that Alton was much concerned with brewing and Montecchio with wine. Both are now light industrial rather than agricultural. The castles of Romeo and Juliet, medieval fortresses where Luigi da Porto of Vicenza set his novel of the romance in 1522, overlook the town. The castles are now used for summer festivals arranged by the Council (Comune) of Montecchio.
In 1998 the Twinning Agreement was signed in Montecchio by Alton’s Mayor, Councillor Pam Bradford, and Montecchio’s Mayor, Senator Giuseppe Ceccato.
In 2004 a mosaic made in Montecchio was unveiled in Alton’s new library, to commemorate the link between the two towns. Situated on the 1st floor, it compliments an adjoining meeting room named in honour of the Italian town.
The Alton Town Twinning Association(ATTA) was set up to oversee all twinning activities but, unlike twinning organisations in Europe, ATTA is an independent organisation with no regular funding from local government and is dependent on members’ subscriptions and fundraising.
In 2004 an approach was made to Councillor Pam Bradford from the town of Pertuis in France with a view to twinning with Alton. Following discussions and reciprocal visits involving delegates from both towns, the Twinning agreement was signed in Pertuis on 21st October 2006 by Alton Town Mayor, Councillor Dave Crocker and the Mayor of Pertuis, M. Andre Borel.
Pertuis, like Alton, is a market town and is situated in rural Provence a few miles north of Aix-en-Provence. It is the most southerly town in the Luberon region, part of the Vaucluse and the region of Provence featured in ‘A Year in Provence’ by Peter Maille.
Like Montecchio Maggiore it is a light industrial town and a producer of wine.
Reciprocal visits to Pertuis and Montecchio are organised annually by ATTA paid for by participants, however, some funding support has been generously donated by local organisations to allow young people to participate in the exchanges. As well as these official visits, ATTA continually promotes and assists other interested organisations to visit the twin towns.
There are opportunities for exchanges in commerce and industry and in sport as well as for more school links and individual visits by young and old. Montecchio and Pertuis are well placed to provide for artistic and musical interests, for alpine sports and culture generally and of course for language study.
Many local organisations and groups have already taken advantage of these visits and include Alton Morris, Eggar’s School, the Alton Wine Association, Alton College football team and a number of individuals. Visitors from Montecchio have included a representative of their Wine Co-operative; artists, artisans, Friends of their museum, and members of U3A, a company of Scouts with their leaders as well as a disabled basketball team in wheelchairs.
Following visits by representatives of several schools seeking to establish academic links; Chairman Pam Jones, herself a teacher, started a thriving pen pal scheme between a school in Alton and Montecchio; similar schemes have also been initiated with schools in Pertuis.
The aim of ATTA is to initiate, promote, advise and assist visits and exchanges in all fields where interest is expressed. The purpose is to put similar organisations and individuals in touch with each other so that they themselves may directly arrange contacts and visits. There is great emphasis on involving the young people of all the twin towns in these exchanges and this is seen as a priority in pursuing these aims.
All interested in taking advantage of these twinning agreements should contact one of the Officers of the Alton Town Twinning Association (ATTA) by visiting the website on https://www.hugofox.com/community/alton-town-twinning-association-7951/about-us