Amitié Française was founded in September 1976 by the inspiration of Mlle. Catherine Granell, a young French woman working as a language teacher at Burton-on-Trent Technical College.
She involved her French language students, her fellow lecturers and her friends having an interest in French culture and invited some of them to form a Committee.
At first meeting she set out her ideas and introduced what today would be called the Club's mission statement "Maintaining an interest in France, its language and its way of life" - (in passing we knew that she was unlikely to make many errors in her English when she opened the meeting saying "Preliminarily, I would like to say………..”)
Meetings were arranged monthly by the Committee, led by Chairman Catherine, and were always vibrantly French in nature and included many different French themes, with emphasis on food and wine, French language evenings, (Tout en Française!), French films, competitions and in the summer months (to the astonishment of onlookers in Stapenhill Gardens) a Boules competition. In the subsequent year this was known as the Barbecue, Beer and Boules evening and then firmly changed to its current title of Barbecue and Boules - "beer" not being suitable for such a high class French institution!
After two years, Catherine returned to Paris because her father was ill – and because there was no room for teaching adults in France, she started her own translation business thanks to her Institute of Linguistics diploma from London; gained whilst teaching at Burton Tech. This business (CG Traduction & Interprétation) based in Versailles now operates with a team of 800 professional translators providing a service that includes European, Asian, Middle Eastern and Chinese languages.
Catherine's departure was of course a setback for Amitié Française, but the challenge was taken up and, following her example, the Club continued to flourish.
After a few years, the decision to arrange annual visits to France in the early Summer was taken and these were very popular, providing as they did, a means of putting theory into practice - be it trying out one's French (so much easier when in the company of friends), judging the accuracy of what had been learnt about French culture, or just enjoying the experiences.