50 Years of Tripartite

Eastbourne        Gand-Maritime        Lille Nord-Nouveau Siècle

Tripartite has for the past 50 years been the Rotary Club of Eastbourne’s most important international meeting with our friends from Belgium and France.

The annual event is Rotary working at its very best encouraging and fostering the advancement of international understanding and goodwill through the united ideal of service. In addition, not only have good causes been advanced, but close and longstanding personal friendships have been firmly established.

We have over the years enjoyed each other’s ample hospitality and Tripartite has grown into much more than just an annual event.

The Rotary Club of Eastbourne’s first foray in contacting an overseas Club was in 1939 with the Rotary Club of Dieppe. These first faltering steps were interrupted during the 1940’s and it was not until the early 1950’s that Eastbourne was paired with Valenciennes in Northern France.

The first meeting included visiting local factories and a  coal mine. There were, even at this early stage, connections with Belgium with lunch at Chateau Beloeil, obviously one of the members was thinking ahead! Further meetings took place during the 1950’s including other Clubs like Le Havre and Antwerp.

Finally success was achieved in 1962 when contact was established with Lille a  city rather similar to the original contact of Valenciennes. Our President that year was Ray Haine whose daughter Nicola will be our President next year 50 years after her father and of course Gand Maritime’s Golden Jubilee anniversary.

The relationship with Lille Nord flourished and Tripartite as we know it today was finally cemented into place in 1972 when Gand Maritime joined Lille and Eastbourne. 1972 was Eastbourne’s Golden Jubilee and it is all the more fitting that Tripartite was finalised at such an important time for our Clubs.

During the 50 years of Tripartite there have been numerous highlights, who will ever forget the spectacular Floralies which this Club has visited on 3 occasions. Flowers convey the same message the world over symbolising joy, happiness and friendship all perfect examples of our Rotary relationship.

In 2001 we spent a wonderful afternoon at the Royal Greenhouses in Bruxelles surrounded by exotic geraniums and fuchsias. 1997 was Eastbourne’s turn with our Gala Dinner at Herstmonceux Castle with medieval jousting, knights in full armour sword fighting all in the pouring rain. 2002 was Lille’s attempt to visit the Armistice railway carriage in Compiegne which was thwarted by road works and unfortunately never did get there; we obviously could not be late for lunch.

Food and wine have always been high on our agendas and we have  been lavishly entertained where ever we have been. What a night we experienced at the Pink Elephant Brewery, jazz band and single line dancing! We all harbour many personal memories of Rotary fun and fellowship of the highest order. Long may Tripartite flourish with our fellow Rotarian friends from Ghent and Lille.

It has certainly not just been Rotary fun and we have of course supported each other’s international charity projects. In recent years there was Gand-Maritimes Congo water project and Eastbourne’s X-ray machine for Kampala.

There are some in Eastbourne who still refer to the 1972 project when England was experiencing strikes and power cuts. A group of Eastbourne Rotarians travelled to France and with the help of local Rotarians filled a van with candles which were distributed on their return.

President Simon Dodds and our members send their warmest congratulations to the Rotary Club of Gand-Maritime on the event of their Golden Jubilee anniversary.

We thank you for your warmth, generosity and friendship over the past 40 years in sharing the Rotary spirit of service above self. We look forward to joining your celebrations later this year and may we conclude by repeating our Presidents last comment in our Golden Jubilee Year 1972 “Long live Rotary and the Rotary spirit”