SEE YOU NEXT YEAR IN SERBIA!
Since all good things must come to an end, on Thursday November 14th the evening was given a ‘black and silver’ theme and was a red-letter day for this 25th anniversary conference in the ‘Osiris’ theatre, in a festive and friendly atmosphere, just as we have known these events right from the start.
The traditional show by the Costa Mediterranea’s own dance troupe served to warm up the audience before the start of the official part of the evening, compèred by Emilija Nikolovska et Bob Braun with the presentation on stage of all the national delegates for a family photograph. This was followed by a highly dynamic review of the last 25 years of the AEHT in the form of a slideshow compiled by Nadine Schintgen, general secretary, and set up by Ahti Paju, AEHT webmaster, as well as the trailer of the video on the 25th Anniversary conference produced by Serge Benassutti and Philippe Manderscheid.
Jean-Paul Bernard, the founding president, spoke to the assembled delegates, remembering the AEHT’s first steps together with his accomplice Martin Bruder and recounting enthusiastically how he managed to bring together for three days at the Strasbourg Hotel School delegates from 16 countries, thanks to funding from numerous sponsors. He recalled the first moments of fraternity and enthusiasm of these people imbued with the same spirit of adventure. ‘The AEHT has not developed a single wrinkle since then, many thanks to you all and thanks in particular to Louis Robert and Sybille Schoch’.
The newly elected President Ana Paula Pais then took the floor to say that for her it was a real honour to be at the head of the AEHT, but also a real challenge, ‘which can only be met with the help of all of you. I rely on you to let me have your ideas. We live in a difficult environment. But it is up to us to develop new projects, to find new ideas, to share best practice. I am both delighted and highly excited. Many thanks to all of you and thanks to my predecessor Klaus Enengl’.
Now Vice-President once again, Klaus Enengl was again dressed in his chef’s hat and a 25th Anniversary apron put on him by Nadine Schintgen, the AEHT General Secretary and Klaus’s ‘right had’ during the four years of his presidency.
With his unfailing sense of humour, Klaus Enengl solemnly promised to always think of the AEHT, and quoted three countries, Latvia, Lithuania and Norway, singling them out for apologies for having forgotten to read out their names at the opening ceremony.
Finally he made a point of warmly thanking his friend and accomplice Louis Robert, presenting him with a very personal gift; he also gave a present to Treasurer Hans Russegger, calling him a pillar of the AEHT, who is leaving his post but not the AEHT.
The ship’s senior officers were presented with gifts in the form of 25th Anniversary plates, with ties for the men and silk squares for the ladies - to thank them for their faultless involvement in the organisation of the 25th Annual Conference on board the Costa Mediterranea.
The forty or so judges who worked on the various competitions were also given a long round of applause by the assembly, as was Georges Schmitz, a representative of Villeroy et Boch, a company which is a faithful sponsor of the AEHT.
Mme. Jacqueline, the ship’s entertainments officer, as multilingual as she is irrepressible, spoke one last time to the assembly to wish everyone an excellent end to their journey and a safe return home.
After a musical interlude came the solemn moment when the flag was handed from the members of the Presidium to the team from Serbia who will have not only the honour but also the considerable task of organising the 27th Annual Conference in Belgrade next year. All that was missing was the singing of the European anthem to emphasise the very European character of the AEHT.