Personalities from media, medicine, education and cuisine receive awards
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Personalities from media, medicine, education and cuisine receive awards

Former newsreader Marrtine Tanghe. © James Arthur Gekiere via Belga

A number of prominent Flemish personalities have received awards from Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon in recognition of the region’s community day.

This is the seventh year in a row the awards have been handed out.

Martine Tanghe recently retired as the main newsreader of the evening news on the VRT, after a career lasting 44 years. Tanghe has a calm, soothing and reassuring voice that makes any emergency seem less serious. She was particularly praised for her disciplined and correct use of the Dutch language, unlike many other TV presenters in Flanders.

“I am pleasantly surprised,” Tanghe said when the award was announced. “Ultimately, the Flemish Community has been my client all these years, so I consider it recognition of my work. It is probably intended that way,” she said.

“It’s nice to get that recognition at the end of my work,” she joked. “I still miss work. But I can let go a little more every day.”

Peter Goossens is now Belgium’s only remaining chef with three Michelin stars, and despite lockdown his Hof Van Cleve in Kruisem in East Flanders seems to have lost none of its allure. He is a graduate, as are so many Belgian chefs, of the Ter Duinen hotel school in Koksijde, a secondary school that takes young people from the age of 12 and turns them into ambassadors for the Belgian culinary and hotel industries.

“It is fantastic to receive this from the Flemish government in recognition of what we have done for Flanders,” said Goossens. “We are a country of Burgundians. We like to eat, we like to drink. We see that with the reopening of the catering industry: everyone wants to go to a restaurant, everyone wants to enjoy. It is an honour to get this.”

Caroline Pauwels is the rector of the Free University of Brussels (VUB), now serving a second term after her first was marked by a battle against cancer. In 2016 she became only the second woman to take the post, and the first to be elected by votes from students and staff.

This is a recognition for hope and optimism,” she said. “An encouragement to stand up for freedom of expression, press and research. To stand up for tolerance. Let us as Flanders be an example.”

Caroline Pauwels, rector of the VUB. © James Arthur Gekeire via Belga

Pfizer Belgium in the manufacturing arm of the German pharmaceutical company, which since the end of 2019 has been supplying the European Union and other parts of the world with the vaccine against Covid-19, developed along with BioNTech.

The award citation describes the company as “an exponent of Flanders as a prime location for a knowledge-driven and innovative biopharma industry,” and praises “its pioneering research work, rapid production, well-oiled logistics and stable deliveries”.

CEO Karel Van De Sompel received the award on behalf of all employees.

Finally, the volunteer staff of the region’s 95 vaccination centres were collectively recognised for their hard work and dedication in turning Flanders into one of the leading countries in Europe in vaccinating its people.

The award was accepted by Katrijn Clemer, programme manager of the vaccination centre in Mechelen who also represents the vaccination centres in the consultation structures of the Flemish government.