The Cambridge Society of Belgium
The Cambridge Society itself was founded in Cambridge in 1976. It exists to spread information about the University, and amongst other things keeps those with an interest in the University in touch with it and with each other through a number of Branch societies in the UK and throughout the world.
Links between Cambridge University and Belgium have always been strong -much stronger than is often realised, and this is natural given the geographical proximity, and the historical links in the fields of Law, Medicine, and other academic subjects since the time of Erasmus, and inevitably in commerce, shipping, banking and industry.
The Cambridge Society of Belgium was founded on 28th January 1994. It draws its Membership from amongst the Cambridge alumni who are in Belgium, and relies on knowledge for its existence to be spread. The Society arranges a number of enjoyable, sometimes academic, events throughout the year which enable Members, their families and friends to pursue common interests. Many of these events are arranged in conjunction with the sister Oxford Society, which has a similar relationship with Belgium, and whose numbers and membership are similar in every way, and a few are arranged with other alumni organisations for example Yale, Harvard and Columbia. It offers opportunities for alumni to meet old friends and make new acquaintances. The Society has no political or commercial aims, and does not act as fundraiser for the University.
A highlight of each year is the Annual Dinner, which commemorates the founding of the society by Geoffrey Fletcher, Ludo de Vleeschauwer and Stan Havrlik. This dinner is open to members and their immediate families, and normally has an Honoured Guest and speaker from the University or other prestigious institution.
An annual cocktail in June enables Members to meet each other socially and bring along families and friends and potential new Members. A limited number of other activities enable those who wish to do so meet each other outside a professional environment. Innovations have been an annual Croquet match against Oxford, golf matches and visits to places of cultural interest.
Of continuing interest to members have been the guest speakers at Speaker Events or Annual Dinners. In the recent past Speakers have included:
- Michael Pye -- British journalist, broadcaster, novelist and historian.
- Sam Fleming -- Brussels Bureau Chief at the Financial Times.
- Prof Anthony Clifford Grayling -- CBE MA DPhil (Oxon) FRSA FRSL is the Master of the New College of the Humanities, London, and its Professor of Philosophy.
- Prof Catherine Barnard - Professor of EU law and Employment Law, senior tutor and fellow of Trinity College -- 2019
- Prof Bill Nuttall - Professor of Energy, Cambridge and the Open University -- 2018
- Stephen Evans CMG OBE - Assistant Secretary General for Operations at NATO, Former Ambassador to Afghanistan.
- Prof Mark Janse -- Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ghent
- Prof Ross Anderson, FRS -- Head of the Cyber-crime Unit at Cambridge University
- Mr. Jonathan Faull - Spokesman for the European Commission
- Dr Ricardo Borges De Castro -- Adviser on Strategic Foresight to the EPSC
- Dr Dirk Frimout - Our First Belgian Astronaut
- Prof A. Silberston - London Economics Imperial College
- Prof John Kay - Oxford University School of Management Studies
- Lord David Williamson - Secretary General of the EU Commission
- Sir John Goulden - UK Ambassador to NATO
- Dr. Jamie Shea - NATO Spokesman, later Secretary General of NATO
- Dr. Julia Campbell - Mistress of Girton
- Prof R. Williams - The Vice Chancellor
- Dr Sandra Raban - Member of the Governing Council,
- Sir John Gray - ex-British Ambassador to Belgium,
- David Colvin - British Ambassador to Belgium and
- Prof David Yates, the Warden of Robinson College.
- Sir Paul Lever - UK Ambassador to Germany
- Lord Robin Butler - Secretary to the British Cabinet
- Richard Corbett - MEP
- Dr Anne Lonsdale - President of New Hall and Pro-Vice Chancellor
- Dr Paul Cornish - Cambridge Institute for International Relations
- Dr Hans Wim - Director of De Beers and Curator, the Diamond Museum of Antwerp
- Sir Nigel Sheinwald - UK Permanent Representative to the EU
- Dr Barbara Emerson - St Hildas' Oxford, "History of Afghanistan"
- Mr. John Mogg - Director General for the Internal Market, The EU Commission
- Prof Godefroid de Calatay - Oriental Institute, the University of Louvain
- Sir Bryan Nicholson GBE - Chairman of BUPA
Speaker evenings normally take place mid-week, in a location in Brussels convenient for all, and in the early evening (18.30-20.30). They are informal in character with the Chatham House Rule applied (strictly off-the-record occasions), thus enabling our speakers to be more revealing than they might be in a more public environment. The Society maintains an active website, www.camsoc.be, a LinkedIn group and an informal Facebook group.
To support all these activities, there is a modest annual subscription. Most events are free of charge, with the exception of the annual dinner.
G.J. Fletcher, CHAIRMAN
L.M.A. de Vleeschauwer, HON. TREASURER
Stuart Anderson - Jesus 1961
William Seddon-Brown - Peterhouse 1959
Richard Nobbs - St Johns 1961
Andrew Tank - Queens' 1976
Rupert Carter - Gonville and Caius 1986