Rambouillet and Great Yarmouth links as strong as ever, after 53 years

Margaret Luckett-Gray

Margaret Luckett-Gray - Credit: Archant

ONE of the earliest visitors to Great Yarmouth’s French twin town continues to retain close links with a family she met 53 years ago.

Margaret Luckett-Gray

Margaret Luckett-Gray - Credit: Archant

Margaret Luckett-Gray was a pupil at Yarmouth High School when in 1960 she went on a school visit to Rambouillet – the twinning, or Le Jumelage, was signed by the then Mayor of Yarmouth and Rambouillet In October 1956.

Each Sunday during the two-week stay was spent with a French family and Margaret had already been chosen by a family, whose eldest son she had met in her home village of Caister, during a school exchange visit.

The Sunday lunches were talkative and happy occasions – parents, eight children and grandparents, and the whole family fell in love with Margaret – and her with them. So much, she was invited every summer to spend six weeks holiday with them, four weeks at their holiday villa at Le Lavandou on the French Riviera.

The whole family also visited Yarmouth in the early 1960s, complete with car and the eight children, staying at the Carlton Hotel. It was during this visit Margaret became engaged to the eldest son, Paul Claude Lyonnais. He regularly visited her at Caister at Easter and Christmas; sometimes with his eldest sister Marie-Juliette and Margaret still continued to spend her summers in France.

Margaret and Paul-Claude started to plan their future but he was conscripted into the French Army and went to Germany – the engagement finally broke off and they each went their separate ways – eventually marrying new partners and having families.

Margaret meanwhile had become fluent in French and became an interpreter for Bernard Mathews. She later worked in personnel management for a US company in Norwich. However the chance placing of an and advert in a national newspaper for staff, with her name as the contact, was seen by the father of her former fiancé’.

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His call out of the blue resulted in Margaret being reunited with the family in 1989 and invited to spend a holiday with them at their new retirement home.

Subsequent visits continued with younger members of the Lyonnais family holidaying in the UK with Margaret and her family.

Margaret remarried in 2006 and after a honeymoon in Sark, Madame Lyonnais invited her and her new husband, Maurice, to spend two weeks with her in Le Lavandou, where Margaret had spent many summers.

Margaret and Maurice now regularly visit Simone Lyonnais who was 90 last year. She regularly keeps abreast of fashion and world news, including her favourite subject, the British Royal Family.

Now 53 years later the contact is as strong as ever with the links between Yarmouth and Rambouillet continuing to gain more interest.