YOUNG Americans really were home from home when the visited Bolton.
They had travelled from Bolton, Connecticut, US of A — a town directly named after Bolton, Lancashire, by the settlers who in the 1700s travelled from the borough to the New World.
Their descendents, students at Bolton High School, returned to the borough to explore their roots and establish a permanent link with the town with which they have a historical connection.
This visit was organised thanks to the efforts of Horwich councillor Richard Silvester after he realised the town was named after the town he is from — rather than after a person as in the case of Bolton, Canada.
He said: “I first raised the idea of establishing a link three years ago, and the result is fantastic.
“They have crossed the Atlantic to visit and the idea is for the two schools to work with each other on projects.
“I am hoping to go over and visit the school.”
The students spent time at Rivington and Blackrod High School, where friendships were quickly established, before they enjoyed a mayoral reception which included a tour of the town hall and gave them a glimpse into the town’s history.
After exploring the town centre, the group left to explore the rest of the country, including visiting landmark monuments such as Stonehenge and a trip to London.
Spencer Glenn, aged 16, said: “Bolton is very different to Bolton, Connecticut, it is more urban — the school we visited is older than our country and it puts our history into perspective.”
Alex Bosco, aged 16, added: “It has been exciting coming to Bolton and everyone here talks differently.
“I really liked going to the school and have always wanted to come to England, it has such great history.”
Young people at Rivington and Blackrod said they were proud to show the students round their hometown.
Rachel Whittingham, aged 15, said: “It has been really good having the students at our school and making this connection between the two towns.
“We will definitely stay in touch, we are already friends on Facebook.”
Oliver Mather, aged 16, added: “There was no awkwardness at all, they were really friendly.”
Future plans include students at Rivington and Blackrod High School meeting up with their American cousins in the United States.
Paul Canning, Head of Sixth Form, said: “We are delighted to welcome our visitors from Bolton, Connecticut.
“The link between us gives students from both countries an excellent opportunity to broaden their horizons, learn about other countries and cultures and importantly make long lasting friendships. We hope that this trip will lead to many more opportunities for us to work together.”
The young people found out Bolton, Lancashire, was far bigger than Bolton, Connecticut, and the America town was famous for chocolate — some of which was presented to the Mayor Cllr Colin Shaw during the reception.
Leader of Bolton Council Cllr Cliff Morris and Cllr Kevin McKeon, Bolton Council's cabinet member for schools, were also on hand to make the visit extra special.
Cllr McKeon said: “We are so delighted to greet our American visitors, and they are so delighted to be here.
“They received a very warm welcome at Rivington and Blackrod High School and established a good connection with staff and students to build long term relations.”
He added: “Links like these build a bond among young people from different cultures.”