Britsoc: The British Society of Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Serving the British Expat community since 1920.

Committee

The BritSoc is a voluntary organisation run by the members for the benefit of its members. Throughout the year the Society organises regular events that appeal to all ages. Amongst the most well known are the annula Bonfire Night celebrations in November, the Charity Christmas Ball and Burns Night. Our current goal is to expand our range of sporting and social activities. To this end we are looking for people to join the Events sub committee. If you would like to get involed in organising one of these events, or maybe you have your own ideas for an event. If you wish to get involved, e-mail the chairperson.

Current committee members include:

John Cameron-Webb – British Consul, President

As a way of introducing myself to readers of the Britsoc Bulletin, I will begin by saying: “ Pleased to meet you, my name is John Cameron-Webb and I am the British Consul in Amsterdam and delighted to have stepped into the role of your Honorary President. What do I do? My professional role is to lead and support my colleagues at the Consulate-General in Amsterdam in delivering a wide variety of consular services to the British population in the Netherlands which, at the last count, numbered above 50,000. Details of these consular services are to be found on www.uniknnl.fco.gov.uk). What brought me here? In 1988 I moved to Netherlands from Berlin where I’d lived for some time. Naturally, the first thing you do in a new city is get to know people, so I attended a service in the Scottish Reformed Church in the Begijnhof to see if I could meet new friends or of course, find work. After the service, I asked the minister Rev. Geraint Williams if he knew of any work possibilities. He said he didn’t but casually wrote the telephone number of the Consulate on the back of a visiting card. The next morning I rang the consulate full of hope and was asked by the very friendly secretary if I was telephoning in response to the vacancy announcement in Saturday’s Telegraaf. I “fibbed”. A few days later I was interviewed; my prior experience in police work suited me well to the job of consular assistant, and I was taken on. Ever since that suggestion by the Rev Williams I have believed in divine intervention! Anyway, since those distant days, I’ve plugged away at work occupying just about every role at the consulate, (I get bored quickly you see) and in 2008, I was fortunate enough to be made Consul.

Where do I live? My partner Anika is Dutch and we live in Almere with our two daughters Marena and Ylvi. It’s a pleasure living with these three ladies and their ability to put up with a grumpy old man never ceases to amaze me! (honest, Guv). Interests? Music is my greatest hobby and I’ve played in a number of bands and groups. Now I sing and play guitar, banjo and mandolin in the theatre folk band “Knijn” (www.knijn-folk.nl) I shall indulge with a quick plug here, come and see us one day! Anika sings and we perform at venues as a duo. We enjoy singing Robert Burns’ songs at the Britsoc annual Burns Night, which is not to be missed! I also love history. In particular trying to “get my head round” the events of the First World War. For a number of years, I’ve organized guided tours for Britsoc around WW1 battlefields in France and Belgium. (If you’d like to take part, check this site for regular updates).

I love art too so, of course, what better country to live in! Some tips for survival in Holland? Learn the language; it will impress and prove wrong those who think that the British don’t learn languages. It’ll also give you the best chance of integrating and making your home here. Read some Dutch history and steep yourself in the marvelous Golden Age: Remember the weather in UK is no better to that here (!) Keep an open mind and before you know it you’ll be indistinguishable amongst our hosts. And last but not least: Join Britsoc and enjoy some of the some great functions they organize (Burns Night, Bonfire Night Christmas Ball and many more) or simply, enjoy the good company. John Cameron-Webb, British Consul, Amsterdam

Stephen Huyton – Chairman

Born in Liverpool, trained as a chartered accountant, joined a Dutch client as Financial Director some 9 + years ago with a view to preparing company for Stock Exchange listing or sale to third party. In 1999 company sold to US Corporation. Agreed to stay on and try and repeat the exercise. September 11th intervened so currently plans shelved. Married to Kathryn, three children Helen age 9, Henry age 7 and Hugh age 5. Kathryn teaches at The International School of Amsterdam which the children attend as students. I have been involved with the Society for several years, usually only in a supporting role, latterly as the contact name for the squash. I have also been active over the last three years as co-host at the Christmas Ball. Like most of us I got involved because I wanted to meet new friends and in my case play squash. I see my present role very simply to, Rejuvenate, Reorganise and Retire. The Brit Soc is great fun but it can also be a lot of work. Kath reminded of the saying many hands make light work. Thus we are constantly looking for new hands to help and new ideas to bring a fresh look to the Society. If you have some time and want to get involved then I look forward to hearing from you. Regards, Stephen

Mikaela Lodder – Events Organizer

Born in Yorkshire, I would consider myself a Yorkshire lass although having lived in Holland since the age of 10!
My father being Dutch and my mother English, I consider myself as being Dunglish: half English/half Dutch.
We moved to Holland as a family and have always spoken English at home, so Dutch was a new language for me when arriving here in Holland. Being young, I picked up the language very quickly. I have lived in Amsterdam for the last 15 years and have only been in contact with the British Society of Amsterdam since the last 2 years as I was leading the ‘Dutch’ life having done my education here.
The British Society of Amsterdam has given me that feeling of a piece of home and recognition of my English-Dunglish side of me. A grand balance between the two nationalities and the best of both worlds.
As an event organizer I get to think of great events we can offer to get people together, it being friends, members, new members or newcomers.
Organizing the Social Friday evey month is also the first step for many newcomers to be introduced to The British Society of Amsterdam. A great opportunity to introduce ourselves as an expat organisation. Hope to see you on of the events!
Mikaela Lodder

Kirsten Pyle – Secretary

I come originally from Glasgow but have spent the last 14 years in various countries. I trained as a Chartered Accountant in London and then was transferred to Frankfurt for 4 years. From Frankfurt, I moved to Paris and spent 5 years living there. I then met my husband, Duncan, at a mutual friend’s wedding, and after a year going up and down between Paris and Amsterdam, decided to make the jump to Amsterdam. I’ve been living in Amsterdam now for 5 years. I enjoy eating out and drinking nice wine and have taken up running to try and counter the effects of the many good Amsterdam restaurants we have tried! I have recently become the society’s secretary and look forward to meeting you all.

Gillian Brooks – Membership Secretary

Hi Gillian here.
I’m still here after nearly 3 years as Membership Secretary and I’m still sending out emails trying to get you to part with your money!! But sorry – I still don’t have a flattering photograph of myself – and probably never will !! Being a part of BRITSOC has been a great experience for me and I’ve made friends with such lovely people and other members especially from GIRL TALK and the Events Committee.I’m also the person who sends out the monthly What’s On (courtesy of www.dutchnews.nl) and I hope you find it useful.The BRITSOC bulletin published my ‘’Volunteer Profile’’ recently where I tried to squash 22 years of dutch life into a short summary so that gave some background information about myself. The expat organisation ACCESS for which I previously volunteered had to close it’s doors in 2011 but I now volunteer for a new organisation again giving out FREE information – www.expatline.org. I’m always available for any questions that anyone has, especially any newcomers to Holland. My ‘’children’’ are now 29 and 17 years old – daughter and son, both enjoying the Dutch education system but certainly understanding the need to keep up their English language so they can travel anywhere in the world, as my daughter has done. For all of us who leave our homelands, websites such as Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo email  etc., have become essential where we can see, speak and keep in touch with our family and friends at any time. I really hope I can meet up with all you guys and gals soon – but if not, you can contact me via the website.