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We could have been twinned with French or even New Jersey

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Some television dramas confuse me by starting halfway through a story and then going back in time to explain why one or more of the characters appears to be hiding some dreadful secret.

Today’s Turnstone column might appear to be following a similar pattern, but without the melodrama.

The “On This Week” section in last Tuesday’s Lynn News took me back 10 years, to my days as a town councillor, when community leaders in Hunstanton welcomed guests from the Loire Valley amid moves towards a possible twinning agreement.

Members of the twinning project group in the French town of St Laurence-Nouan were in West Norfolk on a fact-finding mission, after a working party from Hunstanton travelled to France earlier in the year.

It would appear that this twinning did not happen, due to a lack of interest on both sides of the channel.

Going back even further, to 1997, I attended a public meeting in the town hall, at which ideas to mark the turn of the century were being discussed.

It was here that Elaine Bird made me aware of Cape May, a Victorian seaside resort in New Jersey, which by all accounts has done better at retaining its unique character than is the case with Hunstanton.

It did not take long to realise that twinning with anywhere across ‘the pond’ would only involve those people able to afford the cost of flying or cruising.

So many American families had chosen to live in and around Hunstanton in the 1950’s, that the town had been dubbed ‘Little America’.

This was probably in my mind when Mark Service made contact with me in his capacity as historian of the USAF Squadron that spearheaded rescue operations during the 1953 floods.

He wanted to know if Hunstanton would welcome the 67th Special Operations Squadron back to the town on its 60th anniversary.

Hunstanton had regularly played host to the Squadron’s favorite son, hero of the Floods, Reis Leming GM, so I was in no doubt that the civic society, town council and West Norfolk council would work together to ensure the ‘Night Owls’ are made to feel at home whenever they revisit ‘Little America’.

This was certainly apparent on Remembrance Sunday, which just happened to be the Squadron’s 69th anniversary.

The commander of the 67th, Lt Col Jared Williams, said: "I am incredibly humbled and honoured to return to Hunstanton with the 67th Special Operations Squadron to March in the Remembrance Day parade.

"I have fond memories of marching, as a Captain, in the 60th Anniversary Parade in 2012, and the Freedom of the Town ceremony in 2014.

"These events were among the greatest highlights of my first tour in the UK. Hunstanton will always hold a special place in my heart, as the relationship the ‘Night Owls’ have with the incredible town is unique across the entire USAF. I am a proud ‘adopted Son’ of Hunstanton, and as long as I am the Commander, we will continue to return and honour this town.

"The relationship was forged in 1953 through the bravery of Reis Leming, a member of the 67th, and it’s my aim that the relationship between the 67th SOS and Hunstanton will be cemented forever."

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