A high point of the 24th Annual Conference in The Hague was the gala evening on Friday November 11th in the magnificent setting of the venerable (and deconsecrated) Church of St James in the heart of The Hague. The evening included the prize-giving and the closing ceremonies. In the past these gala evenings have always been held in a wide variety of places, but never in a church building, even if it had been ‘secularised.’
As soon as they arrived, the guests at this unique evening reception were dazzled by the premises; they were greeted with an aperitif and shown to their tables, beautifully laid and adorned with chandeliers and candles – and of course in a church you would expect nothing less! Once the large numbers of diners had been seated and the guests of honour had arrived, Brigitte Engering, in her role as ‘master’ of ceremonies, took pleasure in briefly welcoming the guests, emphasising that this 24th Annual Conference had been highly successful thanks to the exchanges which had taken place. ‘We have experienced a lot of positive vibes, and we have shared with you all a most agreeable week,’ she declared, before showing a video illustrating in dynamic style the high-points of these last few days.
The prize-giving ceremony then took place in three parts, one between each course of the excellent festive menu served by an army of students. The prizes were awarded for three competitions at a time, which everyone thought was an excellent thing as the ceremony was made lighter as a result. And as an added bonus the dancers of the ‘FIFA’ group who had given such a masterly performance at the opening ceremony were with us again to provide interludes.
After the dessert, when the atmosphere was at its most animated, came the moment for the formal closing of the 24th Annual Conference – with a speech from Klaus Enengl who spoke on behalf of everyone to thank Brigitte Engering and all her collaborators at the ROC Mondriaan, who had selflessly given their all to ensure the success of the event in The Hague.
Then came the handing over of the flag from The Netherlands to the Republic of Macedonia – always a high point of every Annual Conference (see Seen and Heard) – followed by the presentation of gifts to the main organisers of the Conference, including Brigitte Engering, Remco Koerts, Cindy Gerritsen, Sophie Bijlaard-La Bree, Wesley Schmits, Jos Schijff, Frank Platsman and the talented announcer Rick van Vichen, as well as to Annie Collinet, the ‘retired’ Vice-President.
It was now 22.30. The timing was almost perfect. For some delegates it would be a sleepless night because they would soon be leaving for the airport, while others still had a few more hours in The Hague. What is certain is that they were all very pleased to have taken part in a really excellent AEHT Annual Conference.