Belle Histoire

It is a little as if a good fairy had leaned over the cradle of the children of Xaintrie. This good fairy has a name. Her name is Alix Watine. She is Parisian and had never set foot in Corrèze before last spring. In May, she discovered this corner of the countryside in the south of Corrèze, very rural and strong links have been forged with the territory, via a partnership forged with the community of communes Xaintrie Val Dordogne (XVD). Alix Watine offers schools in the sector educational, sporting and cultural projects thanks to its Watine endowment fund for education. Here is the story of this good fairy, a patron and even more.

1. How was the Watine fund for education born?

Alix Watine, 43, worked for 20 years in the Senate as an administrator. On various occasions, she was able to see that the cultural community wanted to open up to young people and their families, but that it was not so easy as that to push the door of a theater, an exhibition or a attend a classical music concert. “And not just for financial reasons, observes the young woman. As if there was some kind of glass ceiling. She then asked herself, with her husband, how to bring these children and their families to consider culture, “so that it becomes possible, to discover the world… this point interested me”. Alix Watine realized that sport could also be a vector, in order to create a feeling of cohesion.

She has not worked in the Senate since June 1 and has therefore launched the Watine endowment fund for education, the purpose of which is to finance and organize cultural and sports outings for those who are furthest from it.A meeting between a territory and a patron with a big heart

2. Why was Xaintrie chosen by this benefactress?

The Watine fund follows three territories. First, the city of Le Mans with the support of a school in a district integrated into the political system of the city; Saint-Étienne, with an establishment located in a former working-class district, economically devastated with many unemployed parents and… Corrèze. But why Corrèze?

“A thunderbolt for the region”

“By chance encounters. And I fell in love with this region,” admits Alix Watine. The benefactress was looking for a very rural area and what is called a rural educational territory (TER), an innovation of the National Education of which Xaintrie has benefited since 2021, within the framework of an experimental program of attractiveness of schools of campaign often plagued by staffing difficulties.

The beautiful stories of the year in Corrèze (2021)

But finding this kind of territory was not so easy. “One day, I was desperately looking for a TER with my colleagues from the Senate. A colleague told me that she was of Corrèze origin, that her cousin worked at the association of mayors and that she would ask him the question, ”says Alix. Bingo! The cousin in question, Pierre Brajou, director of the association of mayors, confirmed: there was indeed a TER in Xaintrie. He made the connection with Nicole Bardi, president of XVD. The meeting took place in May and the adventure was over.

3. In concrete terms, what projects does the foundation support?

The Watine foundation finances three projects in Xaintrie. First, the 13 primary schools in the educational rural territory, i.e. about 300 children; After initial contacts by video in April, it was last September that the support materialized with a visit to the Tours de Merle for schoolchildren. Treasure hunt, historical visit with discovery of enigmas, archeology and calligraphy workshop “in connection with the school program”, film produced by a videographer…

Children at the Tours de Merle

Alix Watine also funded three art history teaching kits available to all schools and a subscription to the magazine Petit pont to encourage reading through a passion for sport, especially football.

Colleges also benefit

Other beneficiaries, the two colleges of Argentat, Simone-Veil (public) and Joan of Arc. Alix Watine does not intend to impose anything. It therefore asked the two directorates to make proposals to it. At Simone-Veil, it will be a musical project with a school orchestra program for the next school year, with funding for musical instruments; to Joan of Arc, a theater and cinema project. Programs that are accompanied by outings to Paris to go to the theater, concerts, the Senate, the Quai Branly, on a film set thanks to partnerships established by the donor to generate “VIP welcomes” and “bring life magical moments for the children”.
Interventions will also take place in Argentat, because it is not a question of giving the impression that everything is happening in Paris, quite the contrary. Thus, speakers from the association Moteur, sponsored by the actor Samuel Le Bihan, will hold workshops on site. In short, Alix offers a kind of luxury patronage because, beyond signing checks, she gets involved in the projects she builds based on everyone’s wishes.

4. How much will Xaintrie benefit from?

The partnership covers 60,000 euros per year, or 20,000 euros per project. Initially initiated over 3 years, it should eventually be spread over 5. “It takes time for it to make sense”, imagines the donor who hopes that these young people will “dream their future”.
For Corrèze, relying on a TER (rural educational territory) was essential because “it is a legal system where it is easier for private actors to fit in”, she explains.
Alixe Watine “invests” the same sums in Le Mans and Saint-Étienne for actions carried out in particular with the Le Mans basketball club, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, AS Saint-Étienne and La Chaise-Dieu. These sums made available come from family funds and the generous Parisian does not refrain from raising external funds in a few years.
“It’s a modest contribution to everything that is done on the side. We just add our dynamism”, explains in conclusion Alix Watine for whom “it is a great pleasure to have encountered this territory”.

“It was so huge, we wondered: why us?”

The elected officials of Xaintrie still cannot believe this meeting and the opportunity represented by the partnership between the community of communes Xaintrie Val Dordogne and the Watine endowment fund.blankNicole Bardi and Jean-Michel Teulière listening in vision of Alix Watine

“It was so huge, we wondered: why us? “, recalls the president of the community, Nicole Bardi, still moved and who does not hesitate to speak of a “fantastic meeting” since that spring day when Alix Watine landed in Corrèze and where Nicole Bardi made him swallow the kilometers by car to discover the territory.

“Boosting cultural competence”

However, not everything was so obvious. The director general of intermunicipal services Rodolphe Mailles does not hide having had some reluctance when the project was presented.

The gifts that fall from the sky, I don’t really believe in them”

Also the donor who had all her generosity to offer to Xaintrie had to work to show the seriousness of her project. “I used my arguments,” she admits.
Jean-Michel Teulière, mayor of Saint-Bonnet-les-Tours-de-Merle speaks of a “divine encounter” and of a fund “which makes it possible to boost the cultural competence” of the intercommunality because if the latter does not does not intervene in education, it has a say in terms of culture and tourism. The work carried out at the Tours de Merle thus contributes to the development of the site.
Nicole Bardi notes “the financial aspect” of course not insignificant but also the “human side of Alix, which is oversized. She stuck to local desires. It’s a real plus. She is simple and what she does makes sense. She is a very nice person”. We are incredibly lucky and we try to do quality work.

Laetitia Soulier

Belle Histoire – Who is Alix Watine, this good fairy of the children of Xaintrie (Corrèze)?