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On Saturday November 11th, after these few deeply satisfying days, came the musical ‘pause sign’ which in the AEHT Conference is always the gala evening: it marks the end of the Conference, the presentation of prizes to the competition winners, and the starting whistle for the next year’s Conference.

The evening got off to a good start with cocktails and a demonstration of Irish dancing by the ‘pupils’ of the line-dancing workshops; then on to the gala evening compeered, just as the opening ceremony, by Mary Kennedy, the Irish television star.

The dinner tables had been superbly laid in the large INEC hall and Mary Kennedy greeted all the diners including the VIPs and sponsors in the front seats, among them John O’Donoghue, the Irish minister of tourism. Mary praised the professionalism, enthusiasm and passion of the young students; she emphasised the importance of the AEHT’s philosophy; and congratulated Fįilte Ireland, the Institute of Technology Tralee, the volunteers, the chairmen of the judging panels and the sponsor. She concluded her greetings by wishing all those present ‘Cead mile fįilte’ – a hundred thousand welcomes.

DSC06342.JPGMinister John O’Donoghue expressed his obvious pleasure at being in Killarney surrounded by AEHT delegates. The Minister also DSC06343.JPGemphasised the importance of tourism for the country, and the need to develop the professional skills of young people in this sector.


Aidan Pender, the director of Fįilte Ireland also spoke of the importance of tourism for Ireland. He emphasised the importance of the competitions and of the human capital represented by the conference delegates and these young people, not forgetting the dedication of their teachers and of the trainers.
The gala dinner itself was served to the accompaniment of Irish harp and flute music; and when the meal was over the kitchen and restaurant brigades filed onto the platform, loudly applauded by the diners.


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But before the eagerly awaited prise-giving ceremony, Louis Robert, AEHT president, took the opportunity to thank most warmly, on behalf of all the participants, those who had organised the 19th Annual Conference. He expressed his sadness at the news of the death earlier that day of Reinhard Ginsel, a former director of the Bad Ischl school, an AEHT founder member and for several years Austrian national representative who had given unswerving support to Hans Russegger in his task as treasurer.

Then Louis moved into the prize-giving ceremony (see chapter 11 – prize-winners). This is always an eagerly anticipated moment and causes outbursts of joy among the winning teams and their supporters! Louis Robert and John O’ Donoghue presided over this prize-giving, awarding certificates, medals and other trophies; the proceedings were loudly applauded by an audience which was sometimes delighted, sometimes disappointed.
But the AEHT also awarded the honour of honorary vice-president or honorary member to Ottavia Madaro, Adolf Steindl, Michel Gaillot, Willy Creten, Roy van Sassen and Kemal Topaloglu. The AEHT also thanked the outgoing president Alfonso Benvenuto as well as those who had played a key role in organising the Conference: Aidan Pender, Kevin Moriarty, Brian O’Connor, Mary Owens, Anne Dearey, Mary-Rose Stafford, Eckhard Gogsch and Pauline Lyne: each of them received a gift to remind them of this fine achievement.

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The last part of the ceremony was the handing over of the flag from Killarney to the Lido di Jesolo IPSSAR – a highly symbolic moment each year. Mary Owens and Louis Robert handed the AEHT flag to the team from the Elena Cornaro school in Lido di Jesolo represented by the director Ilario Ierace, Paola Marin, Denise Pellegrina, Antonio Saccotelli and Laura Troiero, together with Alfonso Benvenuto, vice-president and Italian representative. The ceremony was accompanied by strains of the European anthem.

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But all good things must come to an end; so while the world famous Alten group got their show under way, it was time for farewells and goodbyes. Some people had planes to catch early in the morning. But no matter: this 19th Annual Conference in Killarney had come up to everyone’s expectations, and for some people Lido di Jesolo has already been written in their diaries…
12th - 17th November 2018 in Leeuwarden
13th to 18th November 2017 - in Oostend
23rd to 28th October 2016 in London
5th to 10th October 2015 in Cervia

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