IT COULD be friends reunited, French style, for Huddersfield people who've ever been on an exchange holiday.

Civic leaders want former schoolchildren to seek out their old twin town penpals.

Next year is the 50th anniversary of Kirklees' French connection with Besançon.

In that time thousands of youngsters and their families have hosted French visitors, or been to stay in the town.

All sorts of activities are planned, including schools and college events from January onwards, and a grand civic get-together next October. A Gallic-style Christmas market is also being organised.

In Besançon, a series of concerts featuring English music, and a season of UK cinema, is in the pipeline.

Deputy mayor of the town, Madame Jacqueline Panier, and her colleagues are this week visiting Huddersfield.

Their favourite English things include bacon and eggs for breakfast and atmospheric films like Brassed Off and Room With A View.

When Kirklees mayor Clr Mary Harkin visited Besançon in September she was particularly keen on the wine, cheese and architecture.

Chris Rowe of Kirklees Council said the twinning was both areas' longest-established international connection.

He said: "In 1955 it would have been quite a brave decision to go ahead. France was more of an unknown than it is now."

Madame Panier said: "The twinning was set up after the Second Word War with the motto `never again', with regard to the conflict.

"It was felt that if countries got to know each other culturally, it would be easier to live in peace.

"Besançon is a lot like Huddersfield. Both towns have a university and both are economically similar. Kirklees has its textile heritage and satin was invented in Besançon."

Madame Panier is launching an appeal through the Examiner to bring old cross-channel friends back together.

Local schools have long since linked up with their French equivalents, encouraging children to write to each other as well as take part in exchange visits.

Caroline Melotte, international twinning officer for Kirklees, wants to hear from anyone who'd like Madame Panier and her colleagues to seek out their old friends in Besançon - even if they have not been in contact for decades.

Call 01484 221782 or 221780 or email Caroline.Melotte