The grand finale of the 2017 Conference in Ostend was the evening of the gala dinner and the presentation of the medals to the competition winners. The surprising aspect of the evening was that it was divided up into stages. Thus first of all came the perfectly organised reception in the Erehal hall where only a few hours previously the cubicles for the competitions had stood. The second stage was in the enormous Delvaux room for the starter and the main course, the third stage was in the auditorium for the parade of the delegations and the presentation of the prizes. And finally the last act of the play was the dessert, served once again the Erehal hall.
It was a top notch reception at which the aperitifs were served in generous quantities; the dress code was ‘the pearl’ which was to provide a common theme for the evening. The ladies and gentlemen were of course dressed up to the nines for this event, as indeed were all the students.
The tone for the evening was set by the first two courses, which were delicious and cooked with loving care by an army of chefs and students and also served by teams of students; right from the start we were not disappointed. There was a very orderly move to the auditorium where the very official part of the evening was hosted by the compère Marc Deconinck.
It was 22.30 when, to the strains of the European anthem, the delegations from 23 countries marched onto the platform. They were from: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, The Netherlands, Portugal, Pakistan, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom. The parade was loudly applauded by the audience.
Sanne Huygens, President of the 2017 Conference Organising Committee, was delighted with the opportunity offered by this gala evening to thank not only the Heads of the 14 participating Flemish schools, without whom the Conference would never have happened, but also the local coordinators. And finally she spoke most warmly of all the hard work put in by her ‘five musketeers’. ‘Words fail me when I try to express what we have in common, but you are my friends for life,’ she proclaimed. She also thanked the AEHT for entrusting this challenge to Belgium, and expressed the hope that the Belgians had met the AEHT’s expectations; she hoped that the whole gathering would always have excellent memories of Belgium.
Taking over the microphone, Ana Paula Pais also thanked the 14 Belgian schools for their dedication; and since she was handing over the Presidency of the AEHT after four years in office, she said that she had done her very best during her mandate, and expressed her wish that the AEHT should continue on this upward trajectory in future; she congratulated the students and wished everyone every success, especially Leeuwarden who would be the organisers next year.
For his part the new President Remco Koerts admitted that he had very quickly fallen in love with the AEHT, and said that he had organised the Annual Conference in The Hague in 2011. ‘I’m full of energy and I’m very proud to head up the AEHT. Many thanks to Ana Paula.’ He then introduced the members of the Presidium, and finally wished the students the best of luck.
The prize-giving ceremony then took place with the usual jubilation from the winning teams; this ceremony was followed by the third phase of the gala dinner, namely a great variety of desserts served at a buffet in the Erehal Hall.
All the medal winners