ALTHOUGH the two communities are separated by 3,308 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, the spirit of twinning is very much alive and kicking between Lyme Regis and St George’s, in Bermuda.
The two towns were formally linked in 1996 in an initiative pioneered by world champion town crier, the late Richard Fox MBE. Reciprocal visits have been held ever since with parties from Lyme Regis travelling to Bermuda to attend the annual Peppercorn Ceremony, and members of the St George’s Twinning Association visiting Lyme for Somers Day every July.
Admiral Sir George Somers, a former Mayor of Lyme Regis, founded Bermuda when he was shipwrecked on the islands on his way to Jamestown, Virginia, to feed the settlers of this new English colony.
Having eventually continued on the Virginia and then returned to Bermuda for further supplies, he died in 1610 and his heart was buried on the islands, but his body was brought back to England in a barrel of brandy and buried in his home village of Whitchurch Canonicorum.
Representatives and civic guests of the two associations gathered for coffee at The Alexandra Hotel on Wednesday morning before processing to the Admiral Sir George Somers statue in Langmoor Gardens, where a special cry was made by town crier Alan Vian.
The Bermudian party included the Mayor of St George’s, George Dowling III JP; Candy-Lee Foggo, the corporation town manager; Ed Christopher, town crier of Bermuda’s capital city Hamilton; and David Frith, former town crier of St George’s and now chairman of the St George’s/Lyme Regis Twinning Association, who was accompanied by is wife Peggy and his sister Sue Whale, who lives in the UK.
The principal guest from this side of the Atlantic was the Mayor of Lyme Regis, Cllr Michaela Ellis, who is president of the Lyme Regis/St George’s Twinning Association, accompanied by her husband-consort Alan.
Present also was town clerk John Wright and a number of town councillors, including John Broom, Caroline Aldridge, Richard Doney and David Ruffle.
They were accompanied by macebearers Heather Britton and Phil Street, himself a former town crier and association chairman.
After the cry at the Sir George Somers statue, the parade processed to the end of the Cobb for a flag-raising ceremony, where speeches were delivered by Cllr Ellis and the two mayors and Mr Frith.
The gathering then adjourned to Lyme Regis Golf Club for the annual Somers Day lunch, hosted by current chairman John Dover, at which the tradition of toasting the association with a glass of Dark & Stormy, a Bermudian custom, was carried out.
A Lyme Regis plaque was presented to Mr Frith for his long association with the twinning arrangement.
The proceedings concluded with a visit to the Church of St Candida and Holy Cross in Whitchurch Canonicorum where a short service was held.