Skipton has a new twin – the French town of Erquinghem-Lys.

The twinning charter was signed during a ceremony in the council chamber at Skipton Town Hall on Saturday. Skipton is already twinned with the German town of Simbach.

The ceremony was attended by almost 100 guests and dignitaries from local groups and youth organisations.

The charter declares both towns will work together to “encourage and assist youth and adult organisations, clubs, companies, groups and individuals to communicate and exchange visits with each other, thereby developing human and cultural relations”.

Also at the signing were representatives of the Duke of Wellington’s Regimental Association, Royal British Legion and Skipton branches of armed forces associations.

There is a strong link between Erquinghem-Lys and the Duke of Wellington Regiment. The Dukes have the “keys to the town” in commemoration of an act of bravery by one of its members in Erquinghem during the First World War. The regiment also has the “freedom” of both Skipton and Craven.

A party of 15 councillors and guests from Erquinghem-Lys, which is around 10 miles from Lille in northern France, were in Skipton for the ceremony.

Skipton Mayor Coun Chris Harbron said: “In deciding to go ahead with twinning, we wanted to be sure the long-term benefits would make the arrangement worthwhile.

“We know there needs to be the opportunity for exchange visits – especially for young people. Our discussions with schools and youth organisations have suggested the appetite is certainly there.

“Travelling to Erquinghem-Lys is relatively easy and the history of the town and its surrounding area gives plenty of reasons to make the journey meaningful and educational.

“There are things we can learn, too, from the town council in Erquinghem-Lys. We have been particularly impressed with their commitment to young people through their Children’s Council – and we believe Skipton can learn and benefit from this experience.”

Erquinghem-Lys Mayor Alain Bezirard said he was proud of the twinning and the links with the Dukes and that signing the charter would be the start of a long relationship. He said: “Although the twinning is for us today, it is more for our children and our grandchildren.”

Former Skipton Mayor Coun Carole Manley has chaired Skipton Town Council’s Twinning Committee and paid a short visit to Erquinghem-Lys during her year in office.

Speaking in French, she said: “We were offered a fascinating tour of the town and local area including their excellent museum, their memorial to the Duke of Wellington Regiment, the cemeteries of war dead, both English and German, the Menin Gate in Belgium and many other places of interest.

“We realised the twinning could bring to both towns many riches from the point of view of history, culture, hospitality and exchanges for our young people – and I had no hesitation in recommending the twinning to the town council here in Skipton.”

Copies of the charter, in English and French, were signed by both mayors, by Coun Manley on behalf of the Skipton Twinning Committee and by Jack Thorpe, president of the Erquinghem-Lys Twinning Association and curator of the town’s museum.

One copy will be displayed in Erquinghem-Lys Town Hall and the second in the council chamber at Skipton Town Hall, alongside the twinning charter with Simbach.

Next May, a ceremony is planned in Erquinghem-Lys to allow residents to celebrate the twinning. It will coincide with the dedication of a roundabout to the Duke of Wellington Regiment.