LINKS between Bideford and the North Carolina town of Manteo are being re-established and strengthened with plans for a civic visit next month. Town Mayor and Mayoress David and Philippa Ratcliff will be joined by town clerk George McLauchlan, town counci

LINKS between Bideford and the North Carolina town of Manteo are being re-established and strengthened with plans for a civic visit next month.Town Mayor and Mayoress David and Philippa Ratcliff will be joined by town clerk George McLauchlan, town councillor Andy Powell and former Bideford School principal John Dare for a formal visit starting on April 23.Cllr Ratcliff will take with him the gift of a traditionalPotterharvest jug made by local potter Harry Juniper as a gift to the town.There are historical links between the two communities dating back 400 years, when the first immigrants from Bideford set out for the New World and landed at Roanoke Island, of which Manteo is a county capital.Moves to establish twinning links between the two started more than 30 years ago with the visit of a group including the Mayor of Manteo to Bideford and the exchange of gifts.But the link lapsed until another visitor from Manteo called unexpectedly at Bideford Town Hall 18 months ago.Interest was rekindled and it is hoped this planned visit will help to start the process of official twinning in time for the 400th anniversary of the setting up of the first colony in 2009.Manteo is in Dare County, named after the first newborn there, and it is fitting that John Dare will be among the Bideford party. There will also be special meaning for Cllr Powell as two members of the Powell family are believed to have been on one of the first ships to land at Roanoke.Mr Ratcliff said: "This visit will initially be paid for by those taking part. "They will represent Bideford as part of an initiative to raise the profile of the town and to enable aTourismgreater understanding of our communities, which we hope will lead to a boost in tourism to our area from American visitors who, of course, we will make welcome."We intend to meet with the Board of Governors and the local police chief and to visit archaeological sites of interest, where the first immigrants landed. "This is just part of a busy itinerary from which we hope to establish a route map of travel from Manteo to Bideford.