Report on Belgian AGM 2017, Mechelen, Belgium

IMG_1715Being a European flight it is overnight but even so it was a midday arrival. So, arriving at Brussels airport at around 2pm I was rather thirsty and being in the ‘beer’ capital of the world, I had no choice but to enjoy a beer with my good friends Johnny Webber, his beautiful wife (who just arrived from Austria) and of course our great friend that was there to pick us up, Didier. It was just under an hours’ drive to Mechelen, which was very scenic. On arrival, as usual, another beer and then a quick shower and get ready for the evening function.

The Friday early evening saw us registering at a small restaurant/bar in the main square of Mechelen with an amazing atmosphere. Once done we returned to the hotel to freshen up and leave for the dinner which was in a Brewery where we enjoyed local beer, great food and awesome Fellowship. It was great meeting up with everyone again.

Early on Saturday morning we had a quick breakfast and then off to the meeting which was held just around the corner from the hotel. The Belgians have a great way to control the meeting through a series of lights. You start on green and need to finish by the time you reach red, if not you drink.

There was quite a large contingent of 41’ers present at the meeting and after my President’s address I left the meeting for a tour with the rest of the group through Mechelen. It is amazing the number of positive things happening in Mechelen. The city is vibrant and growing well. After the tour, we returned to the meeting venue, where I was told that all went well and I then arranged to meet with the board the following morning.

During lunch, we also had the opportunity to listen to the tours that were attended by various YAPPERS. Of course, the Belgian girls that were on the SA YAP tour gave their presentation and they really had a great time. The fathers of the YAPS also came to thank me personally for the great time their daughters experienced. It is then that you realise just how important this tour is to our association when everyone appreciates it not just the YAPS themselves. The afternoon was at leisure and allowed for some more fellowship.

The banner exchange was held inside the municipal parliamentary building and we were honored by not only the presence of the Mayor of Mechelen, but also meeting and briefly chatting with him. This was really very special. After that we were off to the gala event that was a very elegant affair. There was great music, fabulous food and even better company. We enjoyed the party until late in the evening and some even until the early hours of the morning.

On Sunday morning, I went through to the brunch where I met with the new board and discussed the way forward and the plans for the year. I believe the Belgian board are on the right track. They have a very good relationship with Round Table Belgium and are planning a few events together for 2017/18. A great idea that the board came up with was that all clubs in Belgium would only be allowed to have a maximum of 10% of their club members being non-ex-Tablers. This is definitely a move in the right direction. Their association is healthy and they have some great ideas for the next year.

As we (myself and Jacky from Switzerland) were only flying later the evening we were offered a quick tour of Brussels by Luc and also for him to share a few thoughts about his AGM in 2019. I have visited Brussels on 2 previous occasions so for me it was great to get a refresher. Let me tell you, in the time that Luc had he managed to show us quite a few of the best sights in Brussels and we even had a chance to enjoy a waffle with cream…that is a must in Belgium.

A huge thank you must go to the Belgians and especially Didier and Luc for making me and all the delegates attending feel so welcome. It was definitely a huge success and I look forward to seeing everyone at the HYM in Italy. Congratulations to Didier and his team on a really great year and for putting the Belgians back on the map. Good luck to the Philippe and his new council and please feel free to contact me and/or the board for any assistance during your year.