Member Stories: 2020 Staines Memorial Award Ceremony

Member Stories: 2020 Staines Memorial Award Ceremony

December 7, 2020 2:02 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Our President Chantelle Nylander – Quartey represented JCI London at the JCI Belgium Award Ceremony on Saturday which coincided with JCI Active Citizen Day and delivered a speech before the winner was announced. In her own words:

Dear National President Tom Staelens, IPP Pepijn Palmans, Staines Foundation President Peter Anckaert, the JCI Senate Belgium President Alexis Fary, JCI Belgium Foundation President Serge Goussaert, Regional presidents and their boards, Local presidents, Members, Senators, Friends. Good Evening, Goedenavond, Bonsoir, 

I hope you have all been keeping safe and well during what has been a significantly difficult year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In light of this difficult year, though it has not been possible to gather physically, I am deeply honoured and delighted to be able to represent JCI London as President and JCI UK in this very special virtual ceremony to remember the tragedy that happened 48 years ago. 

On Sunday 18th June 1972, 118 people boarded the British European Airways (BEA) flight 548 to Brussels from London’s Heathrow Airport. It would never reach its destination. Within just a few seconds of take off, disaster struck as the plane plummeted from the sky and crashed into a field in Staines, London, opposite the King George VI Reservoir. All the passengers on-board were killed – including seven members of the JCI Belgium National Board. They were returning to Brussels from JCI European Conference that year, which was held in Edinburgh.

 One of the qualities that can be most appreciated about JCI as an organisation is how closely knit a community it is, on a local, national and international level. It makes the loss more keenly felt, because it is not only a loss of our respective countrymen and women, but also members of our collective JCI family. To commemorate those whose lives were lost, a special relationship was born between JCI London & JCI Belgium whereby we recognise the incredible work of the JCI Staines Foundation to provide support to the victims’ families.  In solidarity with you, our fellow organisation,  I am pleased to continue the tradition held by JCI London Presidents to pay tribute to the members of JCI Belgium and all those who were in their company. 

This is indeed an evening of remembrance, yet it is also a time of reflection. Perhaps this year 2020, has given us greater cause for this as we have been compelled to adapt to a more virtual mode of operation in our personal and professional lives. We are not physically together, but we can be thankful for the technological advancements since 1972 that have enabled us to share this important moment with one another. 

So it is, on the evening of this day, JCI Active Citizen day, we can reflect on what JCI represents as an organisation: recognising community impact, educational and economic empowerment, effective leadership and taking action. We can be grateful for the birth of such an organisation that has enabled us to experience so many unique and wonderful opportunities to develop ourselves, create positive change and form a mighty network of like- minded people. Though we can feel the loss of the JCI Belgium members on that flight, we can take comfort in  remembering what they gained by being members of JCI. It would have given them a sense of pride to have experienced it during their lifetime, as it has done for myself and for all of you I am sure.

The prestigious Staines Memorial Award has allowed us to celebrate those who have embodied those key JCI qualities with pride. JCI London has had the privilege of recognising 47 well deserving active citizens who have made exceptional contributions to advancing the profile of JCI Belgium on an international level and advancing the JCI community, from Jean- Pierre Piette & Gerrit Lovink in 1973 & 1974 to more recently Paul Lammers and Nadja Maraite in 2018 & 2019 respectively. To be able to reflect on these amazing winners shows us just how much positive change can be achieved when we as members truly embody the JCI vision and mission. 

Thank you for having me here this evening and I am pleased to hand back to National President Tom Staelens to announce the winner of this magnificent award. 

Congratulations to Gregor Velz who was announced as this year’s winner of the Staines Award!

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This post was written by Chantelle Nylander - Quartey

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