End for exchange group

A FOREIGN exchange group - which is celebrating its 21st birthday this year - has been forced to fold. The Backwell Belle Isle Exchange Group announced this week it is to close because members of the group across the English Channel are finding it difficu

A FOREIGN exchange group - which is celebrating its 21st birthday this year - has been forced to fold.The Backwell Belle Isle Exchange Group announced this week it is to close because members of the group across the English Channel are finding it difficult to find host families for visitors from the village.Exchange group spokesman Diana Blanchard-Taylor said: "It is very disappointing but we have decided to disband the group and meet on an informal basis."There were a few tears when we announced the decision at our annual general meeting. The problem is because of the timings of the trips from Backwell to France."We often want to go over during bank holiday periods but, because the system is different in France, most people are at work and find it difficult to provide host families for our visitors."The group was founded by two villagers, Jill Iles and Jen Thyer, following a trip to France more than two decades ago.The friendship group has enjoyed many trips across the channel and has hosted many French visitors.Mrs Blanchard-Taylor added: "We have plenty of social activities which raise funds to pay for trips for our visitors when they are over here."Our exchange group operates slightly differently regarding raising funds for our trips over there and I think they are finding it quite expensive to entertain us during our visits. The arrangement between us had become somewhat lopsided."The group is planning to have a final social evening on November 23 with a curry or fish and chip supper.The event will be by invitation only and those involved with the exchange group presently or in the past will be invited.Pictures and mementos from the visits will now be sent to the county archive in Taunton.


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