The people of Vignacourt in France have undertaken a bushfire fundraiser to show support as part of their friendship agreement with the Bundaberg Region.
Vignacourt and Bundaberg signed a friendship agreement on November 8, 2016 following a visit to the region by the Mayor of Vignacourt Stephane Ducrotoy.
The bushfires that have been raging for months in Australia have not gone unnoticed by the people of Vignacourt, who have shown their concern through a fundraiser that has made media reports across France.
The fundraiser, the SolidaRun (solidarity), a 5km run/walk undertaken a few days ago, was organised by Michel Trouillet, a Vignacourt resident and a passionate ambassador for a stronger relationship between his home and the Bundaberg Region.
Monsieur Trouillet formed a group of six residents and managed to gather a cohort of 450 locals and visitors to participate in the event to “walk for Australia” to raise funds to donate to the bushfire appeal.
The runners raised 4500 euros ($A7250) in an amazing show of support for the people of the Bundaberg Region.
Although yet to firmly decide where the funds will be donated, Monsieur Trouillet said the Rural Fire Service in the Childers/Woodgate areas and a native animal health repatriation centre were high on the list.
Australian couple Michael and Donna Fiechtner, who played key roles in establishing the friendship greement, were involved in the run by video link.
Michael was given the honour of performing the countdown to the start of the event.
“This run has inspired many people in France. The Mayor of Villers Bretonneux, which is the location of Australian War Graves as well as the Sir John Monash Centre, was among the participants and has expressed a desire to hold a similar event in his town next month,” he said.
Strong ties between Vignacourt and Bundaberg Region
Mayor Jack Dempsey said the donation reflected the strong and emotional ties between Vignacourt and the Bundaberg Region.
“The relationship spans back to the First World War and the deep respect the French community held for Australian servicemen,” he said.
“Vignacourt is the home of the Thuillier Barn where the photo collection referred to as ‘Remember Me: the Lost Diggers of Vignacourt' was discovered in 2010.
“The collection held images of soldiers from this region, notably the See brothers from Childers.”
Mayor Dempsey said Monsieur Trouillet had visited the Bundaberg Region in November 2018 and with a group of Vignacourt residents, had participated in the Remembrance Day ceremony in Childers.
“The visit has obviously left a lasting impression on this gentleman as it has on myself and everyone who was in Childers for that occasion,” he said.
“Our region harbours the greatest respect for the village of Vignacourt and its community. It is a beautiful sentiment they have expressed for us in word and deed and they can be assured we reciprocate those feelings.
“It is an exceptional compliment to know the Bundaberg Region and its people are so deeply respected by friends in faraway places.”
Mayor Dempsey said Council would continue discussions with Monsieur Trouillet and the local authority in Vignacourt regarding the status of the relationship between the two areas.