A SOBER OPENING CEREMONY: ‘WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS …’
The opening ceremony of the 29th AEHT Annual Conference was held not far from Westminster in a magnificent and venerable hall in Church House. The ceremony was preceded by a ‘mini cruise’ on the Thames, from St Katherine’s Pier just outside the hotel to Westminster Pier; this was followed by a ten minute walk in the rush-hour typical of London between 8 o’clock and 9 o’clock in the morning.
After the traditional fifteen minute delay, and after showing a video on London, Aysegul Yesildaglar, Director of Docklands Academy, took the floor to deliver a welcome speech: after greeting the VIPs, including Onder Sahan, Founder of Docklands Academy, as well as the representatives of the sponsors and her audience, she made no secret of her great pleasure in hosting the AEHT Annual Conference for the first time in London. She also emphasised in passing the close collaboration with the team from Redbridge College, where the competitions would take place.
Moreover Aysegul Yesildaglar made a convincing appeal for greater collaboration with AEHT member schools, thus making the AEHT more visible ‘so that the winners of the competitions are given not only medals but also opportunities for future employment. We have tried to provide the very best for you at this Annual Conference, and we trust that it will be both useful and pleasant,’ she added.
In conclusion Aysegul Yesildaglar made a point of expressing her warm thanks to her teams, to the members of the AEHT Presidium and of course to the sponsors, mentioning them all by name.
In her speech AEHT President Ana Paula Pais declared that London is a great capital city; she expressed her warm thanks to the Dockland Academy for its commitment to organising the 29th Annual Conference; she also thanked the expert judges, the teachers and members of the various judging panels, not forgetting the students, to whom she wished every success in the different competitions. ‘The Annual Conference is the high point of the AEHT calendar’, she added. And in conclusion Ana Paula Pais expressed the hope that all the participants would make good use of their free time to visit London.
Throughout the ceremony several performers came on to provide interludes in the form of music and dance; they were introduced by the energetic compère Pete.
View of the Hall
Then came the parade of the 19 nations in alphabetical order, also displayed on a large screen, wearing their national colours and preceded by their respective flags, with all the proceedings accompanied by loud applause. First came Armenia, then Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, Turkey, Ukraine, then the United Kingdom to close the procession.
The finale was the singing of the song known throughout the world, ‘we are the champions’, in which all the participants joined.
Following the ceremony, almost all the participants set off to Redbridge College in small groups, guided by Redbridge students, and travelling on foot and by underground and bus; and at the college the first lunch of the conference awaited them. It was a very valuable opportunity to get used to the route.