A Ramsbottom pub is welcoming a team from Angouleme, France, as Bury celebrates the 60th anniversary of twinning with the town.
The Eagle and Child will play host to the twinning committees from the two towns on either side of the Channel as they strengthen their cultural ties.
Glen Duckett, from the Eagle and Child, has been involved in the twinning partnership for the past six years and has seen first hand the benefits it provides.
He says: “We run a social business at the pub, creating training and employment opportunities for young people not in education, employment or training.
“From growing vegetables, cooking award winning food or waiting-on, the opportunities we offer not only develop valuable on the job training but help personal development. Over the years we have supported 130 unemployed and disadvantaged young people.
“Through the twinning partnership, we take some of them over to Angouleme to showcase their culinary expertise to a very different audience, doing public demonstrations and going into schools to teach children how to cook.
“These kinds of opportunities are inspiring, giving young people in both towns a cultural experience they couldn’t get anywhere else and feeding their ambitions.
“This is the first time we have had the whole twinning committee from Angouleme visiting us – but with it being 60 years since our twinning began, it’s also a very special year.”
The French delegation will stay at the Eagle and Child and see first hand how the pub is a unique training ground, with its vegetable gardens, chickens, award-winning bar, restaurant and accommodation.
They will also meet local dignitaries and visit Thwaites Brewery in the Ribble Valley to see how the beer in the pub is made before enjoying a celebration meal at the Eagle and Child – a special Lancashire themed menu, with a French twist.
Glen has also commissioned local artist Joy Ladds to create a series of postcards to document Eagle and Child’s activities in Angouleme.
The links with Angouleme are not the only cultural experiences the pub offers its trainees. It has just launched a two year project that will see 12 young people visit France and Spain for vocational placements.
Following a successful funding application by Glen to the European Union; 12 young people will undertake vocational projects in France and Spain through the Erasmus+ programme. The first cohort will visit France in November to carry out project work or complete a work placement.
Glen added: “We are really proud of the success we have had with young people. Over 70% of those we have supported have gone on to employment or further training – many of them were really struggling to get that first foot on the ladder.
“It’s hard work for everyone involved but it’s so worth the effort and we are really excited to see how our work through Erasmus creates even more unique opportunities for young people. I was a beneficiary of Erasmus and spent a year in Barcelona, Spain. I felt that it was critical to support our trainees to access such opportunities to help them achieve their full potential.”
The Eagle and Child has not only developed a reputation as an outstanding social business, it has also won awards for the quality of the pub, not least being named Great British Pub of the Year 2017 in the Publican Awards.
It is one of 230 pubs owned by Lancashire brewery Thwaites. Director of Pubs and Brewing, Andrew Buchanan, said: “Glen Duckett has worked incredibly hard to create a business that is not only successful because it offers fantastic hospitality with great food and drink, but because it makes a difference.
“He works with young people who might well have been overlooked by other employers and offers them the opportunity of a lifetime.
“But not just that, his whole business is built on such strong community values – from the work the pub does to minimise environmental impact through to offering free meeting space for community groups, he puts the Eagle and Child at the heart of the community.
“I think the twinning committees from both Bury and Angouleme will be really impressed with what they experience.”