“Civic pride at its best” was on display this weekend when the Freedom of Worthing was bestowed on the Mayor of Richebourg.
The two places formed links after World War One after a battle known as “The Day Sussex Died” took place near the northern French settlement in 1916.
More than a century on, that relationship was cemented when the Mayor of Worthing Councillor Alex Harman gave the freedom of the borough to the office of his counterpart Gerard Delahaye.
Among those present for the ceremony in Worthing Town Hall on Saturday (12 May, 2018) were schoolchildren and officials from Pas-de-Calais, as well as local dignitaries.
Cllr Harman said: “The whole event went really well. It really was civic pride at it’s best.
“The support from both sides of the Channel was fantastic and I was delighted to welcome Mayor Delahaye, who was the first Mayor of Richebourg to visit Worthing since 1921.
“I was so pleased to see school children from both town take part in the event as it shows that the young people of our towns have the commitment to see the link grow and continue in future years.”
The Day Sussex Died, which is officially known as the Battle of Boar’s Head, took place on June 30, 1916. In less than five hours more than 1,300 soldiers from the three South Downs Battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment were either killed, wounded, captured or missing. Of the 366 who died, 22 were from Worthing.
Former Worthing Mayor Ellen Chapman first formed connections with Richebourg back in the 1920s.
Cllr Harman gained approval from Worthing’s Full Council in February to award the freedom honour, which coincides with the centenary of the end of World War One.
As well as receiving the award, the French delegation attended a short commemoration service at the Battle of Boar’s Head memorial in Beach House Park. That was followed by an unveiling of a piece of collaboratively-designed stained glass on Worthing pier.
The glass was jointly designed by the students from Worthing’s Chatsmore Catholic High School, Ecole Marcel Lejosne and Ecole du Sacré Cœur in Richebourg. A duplicate piece of glass was presented to the town of Richebourg.
The visit by the French delegation was arranged by Chatsmore Catholic High School, who forged links with Richebourg through their Legacy 110 programme which encourages schoolchildren to become involved in projects to pass on the legacy of remembering World War One.