To those gone…

Along the way it happens that we lose friends.

They leave an indelible mark in our hearts: the one left by fellow travellers, the one left by those who looked at us kindly when needed, the one left by those who gave their hand.

The District dedicates this section to those who have left us, and whom we miss so much.

Pascal Vilarem, Public Relation Manager 2021-2022

Ian MacBeath

Ian MacBeath

It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of Ian MacBeath. Ian was a founding member and Past President of Toastmasters Antwerpen. He also served as District 59 Area B4 Governor. We were last honoured by Ian’s presence at the 10th anniversary celebration of our club in 2018.

We are grateful for everything we learned from him. Watching Ian deliver a speech, or getting evaluated by him, was always a treat. Even though his speaking style was inimitable, Ian was of great influence to many club members. Whenever he was the Grammarian, we all dreaded his evergrowing list of Dutchisms.

We will remember Ian’s sense of humour, that lead him to excel in countless humorous speech contests. Ian had an exquisite taste in food and beer, and was a passionate runner. He managed to combine these passions in his groundbreaking ’Beer Mile Speech’, a hilarious and most memorable performance.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Kelly, his wife, and Lewis, his son.

Egwin Gonthier, Past President, Toastmasters Antwerpen

Edoardo de Silva

Our club’s Treasurer, Edoardo De Silva, passed away in Milan. The news has shocked us all, and we are still trying to absorp the whirlwind of emotions it had brought. We all hoped he would get better soon, and he himself was very optimistic about his recovery, till the last day – he even renewed his membership in our club… Although he could not attend the last club meetings in person, he always remained a truly dedicated Toastmaster and Committee member. He kept on carrying out his Treasurer role from the hospital bed, and even being under sedation. He will be dearly missed…

If anything we can learn from this, is how precious and fragile life is. So please, take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and enjoy every moment we have together.

Dovile Vaigauskaite – President (2021-2022) Brussels Toastmasters Club

Alfred Lowey Ball

It is with much sadness that I have to inform you that Alfred Lowey Ball, founder President & co-founder of the Atomium Toastmasters of Brussels, former President of Brussels Toastmasters and former President of Claddagh Toastmasters of Brussels, Former Area B and Division B Governor of District 59, and also a former lecturing colleague at the United Business Institute. (UBI) passed away on Saturday 2nd October 2021.

As a final farewel we would like to bring a tribute from our Atomium Toastmaster club members. May your soul rest in peace. “Dank je wel Alfred, voor alle prachtige speeches die je hebt gegeven in onze club. De mooiste herinneringen heb ik aan jouw zeer constructieve en bemoedigende evaluaties. Dat heeft mij gesterkt in mijn verdere presentaties. Dank je wel voor het oprichten van deze prachtige club, waar wij nog steeds en ook in de toekomst veel plezier mee gaan beleven.” Marica Judels, Atomium Toastmasters of Brussels, CC/CL

Farewell Testimonials

Dear Alfred, Thank you very much for the very balanced evaluations you have given to the club and for all  your contribution to make the club what it is now. May God rest your soul in peace! Orestis Liolios, Atomium Toastmasters Club

Losts are always sad… but if, I am allowed to say so, this one, especially! It was always great news when Alfred was joining us. Someone to try to imitate and learn from his advices, always with his affable, cheerful style. My prayers and condolences to his family!Pablo Cancela

Thank you Alfred, for the never-ending support and encouragement you gave to so many members of Toastmasters. Some say helping others is the highest good, and well that’s exactly what you did, by stimulating the best in all of us and by making every Toastmasters evening a cheerful event. In return I hope we at least made you laugh, and rest assured, we’ll pass that energy on to others! Rest in peace, and lots of strength and love for your family. Marijn Duijvestein, Atomium Toastmasters

Alfred, altijd met heel veel bewondering keek en luisterde ik naar elke speech, table-topic of evaluatie die je gaf. Jouw enthousiasme op en naast het podium was zo aanstekelijk. Slechts een korte tijd heb ik je gekend. Toch draag ik steeds met me mee wat ik van jou geleerd heb. Bedankt voor alles wat je voor iedereen gedaan hebt.Paul Pladijs, Atomium Toastmasters of Brussels, CC/CL


Mathilde Pak

Mathilde Pak Toastmaster OECD Club

Mathilde, we will miss you!

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our beloved friend and fellow Toastmaster Mathilde Pak, immediate Past President of OECD Toastmasters in Paris, District 59, Division A. Mathilde passed away the morning of 6 July 2021 at the age of 36 in Paris. Mathilde was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2019.  

Mathilde joined OECD Toastmasters in February 2017 and was one of the most active and committed members of her club. Over the years she served as treasurer, Vice President Membership, and President. She was the only member in the history of OECD Toastmasters who won the annual speech contest twice. She organised and participated in many additional projects in the club, the Area and the Division, as well as mentored several members. She was also known as the club’s best recruiter; bringing several new members to the club with her contagious enthusiasm.

Toastmasters played an important role in Mathilde’s life. Even in difficult times, when she was going through heavy treatments, she continued to show up for meetings and engaged actively in all kinds of Toastmasters projects. She was famous for her endless energy, creative ideas and care for others. Mathilde was on a constant mission to make the world a better place: she taught people around her how to live more environmentally friendly, she supported people when they went through difficult times, and she actively reached out to new members to make them feel at home in our club.

Mathilde’s speeches are legendary: she used a powerful voice, fantastic humour, dance moves, singing, acting and liked to dress up for a theme. In April 2021 she delivered an impressive speech in her club meeting about her battle against cancer. Rather than a sad story, the speech was full of positivity, strength and wisdom. As Mathilde said, some people think a glass is half-full, others think it is half-empty, but the point is you must fill the glass yourself.

We cherish the many beautiful memories of Mathilde, her wisdom, love, humour, energy and optimism.


Elena Sollewijn Gelpke, DTM

Elena Sollewijn Gelpe passed away. She was an engaged Toastmasters. She took many roles both at club level and District level.

She founded Berlaymont Toastmasters Club and was aslo a founding member of Claddagh Tostmasters Club.

We miss her.

Elena Sollewijn Gelpke, DTM was born and bred in the Netherlands, she worked for the US Air Force in Spain before immigrating to the USA. Sharing an apartment in Manhattan, she quickly settled in as a New Yorker. She worked as an executive secretary in Wall Street at first. Subsequently she joined the United Nations and worked in some of the world’s most dangerous places.

Thirty years later she returned to Europe and settled in Brussels to write her first book “Bullets in the Bedroom.” This book was based on her personal experiences and has been published by a U.K. publisher. She has actively promoted her book for two years, went on an extended lecture tour on “self-publishing and Bullets” in the Benelux countries. She was also interviewed for Radio Expats in Luxembourg.Her book was sold out.

Her hobbies included an addiction to computer/emailing, writing, playing duplicate bridge, gymnastics & swimming and of course Toastmasters.

After she moved to Brussels, Elena joined the Brussels TM Club in 1999 and Capitol in 2000. Thereafter she was founding member of the CLADDAGH club and founding President of the Berlaymont TM Club.

She become a Distinguished Toastmaster on 17/09/07.

She adored Table topics and never missed an opportunity to mention a flirt or a handsome man in those two minutes. She loved competing and placed first in many table topics, speech contests, as well as evaluation contests at club, area, division and district level. This is a summary of her palmares:
– in 1999 she placed second in the Area Humorous Speech and International speech contest;
– in 2000 she placed second in the Area Speech contest;
– in 2001 she placed FIRST in the Area Table Topics contest, followed by third place at the European District Conference (3 out of eleven contestants);
– in 2002 she placed third in the Area Humorous Speech contest;
– in 2005 she gained FIRST place at the Area Speech Contest – and second place at the Division Speech Contest
– in 2008 she got FIRST place at the Humorous Speech Contest at club, area and division level, and was a contestant in the European District Conference in Bamberg.
– she also competed in French: in 2000 and 2001 she placed twice first in the French Table Topics Contest at the European District conference – also in 2000 and 2002 she won FIRST place in the French Humorous speech at the European District conference.

Awards:
– in 2002 she was awarded the “Toastmaster of the Area” award, the first ever issued in the area.
– in 2008 she was awarded with the plaque ‘President of the Year – Berlaymont Club.

As speaking in public was her hobby she attended during the last few years as a guest member many club meetings outside Belgium, including three London Speakers Clubs, i.e the Croydon, Sutton and Wimbledon branch. She travelled to Rome and Milan to support the Italian clubs attending their National conferences even before they became part of the District. She has been attending regularly two Toastmasters Clubs in New York and in December 2004 the Roosevelt Island club presented her with the “best speaker” award.

She also took a number of officers’ roles both at Club and District level:
– Past Sgt at Arms, VP Public Relations) of the Brussels TM Club
– Past VP Public relations Capitol Club
– Past Area Governor
– Past Division Governor
– Past President and Founder President of the Berlaymont Toastmasters
– Honorary Member & Immediate Past President of Claddagh Tostmasters

She had to take dialysis but that did not prevent to travel to other countries and enjoy life – she simply organised herself in order to be able to be there. Not for a minute did she let her health condition run her life. She lived her life to the fullest, and set a marvellous example of courage, passion, determination and joy.

She left the this world of Toastmasters on Easter Sunday April 16, 2017.

(based on info by Denis J Buckley and some of her Toastmaster friends, please contact prm@district59.org if you would like to add more testimonials)