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Fordingbridge Twinning Association president and founder Dennis Bailey dies aged 88

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THE president of Fordingbridge Twinning Association, who first proposed the idea in the 1970s to put the town on the map, has died.

Dennis Bailey (88), who died at Salisbury District Hospital last month, was involved with many local organisations and was well known in the town.

He first proposed the idea of twinning in 1977 to the Chamber of Trade and became “characteristically obsessed” by the project, the group said in a statement.

Dennis was well known in the town (49637453)
Dennis was well known in the town (49637453)

Paying tribute, it said: “He emphasised that the twinning movement was, by its nature, an organisation promoting peace, encouraging people to learn the customs and cultures of other nations, learning their languages and experiencing what life in a foreign country is like.

“Above all, he felt that twinning promoted friendships which last a lifetime and he was indeed the very embodiment of this, having established strong family links with the Beaugeard family in Fordingbridge’s twin town of Vimoutiers, over further generations including the Brard family.

“The families visited each other many times over the 40 years of their friendship, the most recent being Madame Claude Brard coming to Fordingbridge for the 35th anniversary of twinning in 2017 when a tree was planted in the memorial garden in Fordingbridge recreation ground.”

Dennis was born in 1933 in Cripplestyle, a small village near Alderholt in Dorset and went on to train as an electrician in Salisbury after leaving school.

Dennis at the unveiling of the original twinning plaque with Dr John Barron (left), co-founder of the scheme
Dennis at the unveiling of the original twinning plaque with Dr John Barron (left), co-founder of the scheme

He became an electrical and TV retailer, initially working at Southern Radio in Fordingbridge before he took over the running of the business until his retirement.

Dennis married Margaret in 1955 and lived in Sandleheath, near Fordingbridge.

They had two children, Alistair and Nicola and three grandchildren, Solomon, Sam and Hannah.

Sadly, Margaret and Alistair both died in 2018.

As well as twinning, he was chair of the Fordingbridge Chamber of Trade and was greatly involved in Sandleheath Methodist (now Uniting) Church and Salisbury Methodist Circuit, where he served as a lay preacher for over 60 years.

He also contributed to Pause for Thought, a short religious features on BBC Radio 2 in the 1990s and subsequently similar features on Radio Solent. He was also a keen gardener.

The twinning association’s statement added: “Dennis, with his inspiration, passion and commitment to twinning, will be sorely missed.

“The association regrets that Dennis will not see the 40th anniversary celebrations, already being planned for the first weekend of July next year. His passing will be marked by a special tribute at the anniversary.

“His passion and drive for the movement ensured twinning activities flourished and schools, footballers, musicians, choirs, firemen, historians, cyclists, scouts and countless individuals and families have all made visits and exchanges over the past four decades.

“When Brexit came along, Dennis held the deep-seated belief that the bonds established by twinning would continue to go from strength to strength, as friendship between individuals is stronger than politics and will prevail.”

Dennis’s funeral was held on Tuesday at St Mary’s Church in Fordingbridge.

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