How old are you, where do you live and with whom?
I am 75 years old and live once again in Oostkapelle -where I was born – and am married to Berenice Noordam, a painter who has her studio in Rotterdam. I am enjoying my retirement here while Berenice still works in her studio in Rotterdam every day. We have two sons: Damiaan (35) lives with his Alexandra and their son Thibaud (1) in Amsterdam and Gerrit (31) with his Marloes in Rotterdam.
How long have you been a member of the Fund?
Actually since I was born but officially since I was 21. My father was Administrator, and I went with him to the meetings from an early age. Back then, those were small meetings. Over time, I have seen that change. A meeting of 10 people used to be a lot, now the room is packed. Before, “young people” were not that interested; the Fund was an old men’s club, but convivial. After the meeting, family members came to stay with my parents, so the Sunday after the meeting was always busy and enjoyable.
How long have you been active in the Fund, and in what position(s)?
I am mostly active in the sense of attending the annual family meetings. I am not much of a meeting tiger, but I am always willing to DO something. For instance, I helped organise the anniversary celebrations on the occasion of the 250 – and 255 – anniversary. And I have sometimes been on the Preparation Committee.
What motivates you to do so?
Overall, I support the fund, it’s a good institution. I know from experience that some people have been helped immensely. I also really like the student benefit programme.
Another aspect is conviviality. The Fund’s activities are always accompanied by a lot of conviviality and I like that.
Furthermore, I sometimes jokingly call it the best insurance there is. For 4 euros a year, I know that if the worst comes to the worst, I can call on the Fund. That is a reassuring thought, although I hope I will never have to use it.
What memorable moments have stayed with you from your time within the FFH so far?
That mainly concerns the activities outside the meetings, then. The festive reunions in the anniversary years. I remember the 200th anniversary, but more recently the 250th anniversary and of course the festive celebration of the 255th anniversary on July 9, 2022 in Vlissingen.
How do you see the future of the Fund?
The number of family members is increasing, which reduces the ties between them. And thus anonymity is increasing, which is something we should perhaps consider together.
What is your profession?
I have worked all my working life (42 years to be precise) in the logistics world of the port of Rotterdam. Always in a managerial or executive capacity. I find it a fascinating, challenging and beautiful world and have always enjoyed my work.
What are your hobbies/interests?
We live in the Manteling of Walcheren. That’s on the Kop van Walcheren, between Domburg and the Veerse Gat dam. It was once family property until it was sold to Staasbosbeheer. As a volunteer for Staasbosbeheer, I do a lot of maintenance in the woods and a duck decoy. I enjoy doing that and it is nice to work in the open air.
I also volunteer at the Polderhuis museum in Westkapelle. I help with maintenance and preparing all kinds of activities, among other things. It is useful work and sociable.
And I enjoy singing and am a member of the Westkapelle Choir. This is extra special because we perform in Walcheren traditional costume and thus honour a tradition. The Fund also contributed to the book we made to mark the 100th anniversary in 2022.
In your opinion, what is your best trait, and what your worst?
Bad trait: I can be a bit impatient at times….
Less bad: my motto is “things will work out”. I always see the glass half-full. I am an optimist on a micro level. But if you read the newspaper, there is little reason for optimism at the macro level right now.
What does your ultimate day of self-care look like?
Getting up early and reading the newspapers (on paper and online). Mess about in the garden a bit.
We live a 5-minute walk from the beach within hearing distance of the sea. I go and look at the sea every day. Take a swim in the summer and go for a walk in the winter.
And I really like hiking. Together with a hiking companion, I have hiked all the islands of the entire province of Zeeland, always keeping the salt water visible on the left shoulder. We did that in stages over two years. It was fun to do that together, the two of us coming up with great conversations along the way. And afterwards we wrote a mood report of each stage: what we saw, what stood out and the encounters we had.
John Merrill’s book “Turn Right at Land’s End” inspired me to do this. He walked the entire English coast by himself, even wading through rivers instead of taking a ferry. We were not that strict with ourselves; it had to be fun, obviously. And there was always a beach pavilion or café to be found for a pleasant rest.