Alderman Peel students from Wells set sail for America, in the first exchange between two newly-twinned towns

Three students from Alderman Peel High School are going on a sailing exchange to Oxford in America -

Three students from Alderman Peel High School are going on a sailing exchange to Oxford in America - Front from left, Olivia Cunnigham, Connor Rumbles and George Smith, with from back left, Ian Scott, Headteacher Alastair Ogle, and Gary Anthony. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The trio, who attend Alderman Peel High School in Wells, will visit the town of Oxford, Maryland, on America's eastern shore, in July.

Olivia Cunningham, 13, George Smith, 14 and Connor Rumbles, 15, will spend 10 days sailing and visiting local attractions. In August, three students from Oxford will make the return trip to Wells.

The three were selected after being interviewed by Gary Anthony, chair of the new Wells Oxford Twinning Committee, and its secretary Ian Scott. Both are also members of the Wells sailing Club, which is an enthusiastic supporter of the project.

Alderman Peel executive headteacher Alastair Ogle said: 'We asked them how they felt about representing the school and the community, because that's quite a big responsibility.

'It's a wonderful opportunity, it's not the kind of opportunity children normally get at that age, it's a once in a lifetime trip.'

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The three were told on Tuesday that they had been chosen. Olivia, 13, from Burnham Overy Staithe, said: 'I can't wait, it's going to be a great experience.'

George, 14, from Burnham Thorpe, said: 'I was really pleased, I was quite nervous in the interview.' Connor, 15, from Fakenham, added: 'I'm relieved and really pleased, I was nervous in the interview, I didn't know what to say.'

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The youngsters will travel to America with teacher Lynn Pigney and stay with host families in the states. They are now raising funds towards their £800 flight costs.

Ian Scott said the idea of twinning Wells with Oxford came about two years ago.

'I realised the towns have a lot in common,' he said. 'Both are ports and have been for some time. Both have sailing activities.'

Founded in the 17th Century Oxford, which has a population of less than 1,000, describes itself as one of America's oldest towns.

'While other waterfront towns have succumbed to waterfront condos and glitz, Oxford has retained its historic charm,' its website says.

Like Wells, it also boasts a fleet of crab boats. Contact was made last year and a video conference was set up between Alderman Peel and Oxford Town Council. A chef exchange is also planned between the two towns.

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