All good things must come to an end, and on the evening of Wednesday December 6th came the final act of Christmas in Europe 2017 with the gala evening scheduled to take place at the Fátima Hotel School. This was a very festive gathering, and the organisers pulled out all the stops to make sure everyone enjoyed themselves.
You could see this above all in the hall and the tables which had been beautifully laid out for the gala dinner, making you forget that it was really a school gymnasium!
The members of the delegations were dressed up to the nines in their party outfits, as were the EFH’s guests, in particular the unsung heroes from outside the EFH such as representatives of the Police who were greeted by Elisabeth Marques
Luis Miguel Albuquerque President of the Ourem Municipality
As you would expect, everyone enjoyed the festive menu consisting of Portuguese specialities, and including a dessert served by Chef Yannick Genard in person.
And what is there to say about the food service carried out by students well trained in this task who smile as they work under the supervision of their ever-vigilant teachers?
When the time came for speeches, Renato Guiomar naturally said a few words in memory of Francisco Vieira, the school Director who had been taken from us too young; but he showed his obvious pleasure at having organised, together with his troops, this 26th Christmas in Europe in Fátima, expressing the hope that the delegations had enjoyed themselves and wishing everyone a safe return home, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
The following speakers also emphasised the importance of exchanges thanks to events such a Christmas in Europe; they also thanked the EHF for organising such an event. They in their turn wished all the delegations a safe homeward journey, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2018.
When her turn came to speak, Christiane Keller, founder of Christmas in Europe, declared that she was humbled by the high quality and yet the refreshing simplicity of the welcome extended and of the programme provided, which were very much in the spirit of Christmas in Europe. Evoking the memory of Francisco Vieira, the late Director of the EHF who had passed away on October 1st 2017, she declared that he would have been pleased with this gathering and asked her audience to give him a round of applause.
Klaus Enengl, who officially represented the AEHT Presidium, then also heaped praise on the highly successful Christmas in Europe in Fátima, and following his custom asked for a standing ovation for the kitchen and restaurant brigades who throughout the event had so eminently distinguished themselves.
Next came the award of the prizes to the winning teams in the treasure hunt through Fátima in search of Christmas traditions and cultures; this was then followed by the presentation of gifts to each delegation.
And finally, in the last highly symbolic act, with good humour and to the strains of the European anthem, came the handing over of the AEHT flag from the Fátima team to the Riga team who will organise the 27th Christmas in Europe next year.