To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, Musselburgh Twinning Association
(MTA) organised a programme of activities over the weekend of 5-8 March. Four representatives of Musselburgh’s French partner Champigny sur Marne were invited to join MTA members during the three day event. Haddington Twinning‘s Secretary Elaine Mitchell-Wilson attended, accompanied by Martine Destenave from Haddington’s twin town Aubigny sur Nère.
The programme began on Thursday 5 March with a welcome dinner at Ravelston House Hotel in Musselburgh hosted by Provost John McMillan. As always, rousing renditions of La Marseillaise and Auld Lang Syne set the weekend off.
On Friday 6 March the group took part in a visit and tour of the Scottish Parliament. They also met with the local MSP Colin Beattie.
In the afternoon, the group had a guided tour of Newhailes House in Musselburgh. Mark McLean from the National Trust of Scotland gave an insightful talk about the history of the house and the life of its occupants over the years.
The main focus of the event was a Women’s conference at the Brunton Hall on Saturday 7 March which celebrated the achievements of women both locally and in France. The group was joined by pupils from Musselburgh Grammar, members of the French Institute and the French Consul, Laurence Païs.
In the morning, the group were treated to a screening of a fantastic film about the fishwives of Fisherrow followed by a fascinating presentation by Séverine Genieys- Kirk, a lecturer in French at Edinburgh University, about several women who are important in the journey and struggle for women’s rights in France. Before lunch , Mark from Newhailes House delivered an exciting talk on Châtelaines-Women as Guardians of Scottish Heritage including Lady Antonia Dalrymple, the last
guardian of Newhailes.
The afternoon kicked off with a presentation by Margaret Elgin on the Fishwives of Fisherrow. Dressed stylishly in her fishwives’ regalia, Margaret gave a detailed account of the amazing life of the fishwives. Tales given to her by her mother who had been a true Fisherrow fishwife!
The group from Champigny sur Marne, Nicole, Josette, Catherine and Geneviève continued the theme of influential women with presentations about historical women who fought for social justice and equality and engaged in feminist activism in France.
All of the presentations were very interesting and truly inspirational.
The day ended with a thank you by Provost McMillan and the French Consul to the members of Musselburgh Twinning Association for organising an extremely successful event that celebrated the achievements of women-both past and present, both local and from further afield.
Vive les femmes, vive les Jumelages et vive la Vielle Alliance!

Provost John MacMillan at Welcome Dinner – Ravelston House Hotel – Musselburgh.

Auld Lang Syne in full flow.
In debating chamber at the Scottish Parliment.
Visit to the Scottish Parliment – Meeting with Colin Beattie MSP for Midlothian North & Musselburgh constituency.

At the gates of Newhailes House in Musselburgh.
Elaine, Martine, Laurence Pais, the Consul General of France, Margaret Elgin & Severine.
The group outside the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh on day of departure.

Article by Elaine Wilson, Haddington Twinning. 14th March 2020