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Contact us if you want the BBCA to post a News Story or an Event that is strongly linked to the British Community in Brussels.  We reserve the right to select items for publication and to edit items as required for style and space.

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News and Events -----------

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  • 5 Jun 2024 11:51 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    The Brussels Branch of the Royal British Legion, together with the Royal National Federation of the Friends of the Brigade Piron, is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Liberation of Brussels by British and Belgian Forces with a Gala Dinner and evening of 1940s-style entertainment at the Club Prince Albert on 4 September 2024.

    This promises to be a very special occasion at the prestigious Club Prince Albert located in Rue des Petit Carmes in Brussels. The event will feature 1940s themed entertainment, live music and a four-course meal and drinks. The dress code is black tie, uniform, dark suit, cocktail dress, decorations.

    The reception will start at 19h00 with the formal dinner from 20h00. The event will end at 23h00

    To purchase tickets for the event or request more information, please email eventsrblbrussels@gmail.com. More details below.


    The liberation

    On Sunday 3 September 1944, shortly before 20h00, the British Second Army, led by a Welsh Guards’ tank squadron, entered Brussels via Avenue de Tervuren. They successfully engaged the enemy near Parc du Cinquantenaire and Avenue des Arts. On 4 September, the 1st Infantry Brigade of the Free Belgian Forces, known as the Brigade Piron after its commander, joined forces with the Guards Armoured Division to complete the city's liberation, amid scenes of huge jubilation.

    Representatives of the Welsh Guards and the Brigade Piron will be at the Gala Dinner.

  • 5 Jun 2024 11:29 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    How do you complete your Belgian tax declaration? What is your residency tax status and what are the consequences? How do you declare foreign income? These are some of the questions that the Expat Welcome Desk will be providing answers to at their webinar "Filing your Belgian tax return (2023 income)" on Tuesday 11 June from noon.


    During May, you will have received the well-known brown envelope, which you need to return to the Belgian tax administration. Depending on your situation, filling in the form can become quite complicated. But the Expat Welcome Desk is here to help with this dedicated free webinar in English that is primarily aimed at expats working for Belgian employers.

    To register you should send an email to inscription@commissioner.brussels before Friday 7 June.

    The keynote speaker will be Eric LAURENT, Tax consultant at Eryv and the webinar will be moderated by Amélie BOVY from the Expat Welcome Desk.

    Details of how to join the webinar will be sent to registrants by e-mail one day before the webinar.

  • 4 Jun 2024 11:34 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    BBCA member Julian Hale is looking for people to play occasional social and fun sports. Julian is looking for male and female players who are interested in getting together for occasional sociable and fun matches or training sessions for touch rugby, softball and cricket.


    For touch rugby and softball no prior experience is necessary and total beginners are very welcome. But for cricket a little knowledge of the rules or experience would be good. For all - enthusiasm is the key!

    If you are interested then get in contact with Julian either by phone (+32 473 69 07 49) or email (Julianahale@gmail.com).

  • 3 Jun 2024 3:51 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    The British Charitable Fund (BCF) is a benevolent institution that is older than Belgium. Created by the Duke of Wellington in 1815, following the Battle of Waterloo, its initial role was to care for wounded British soldiers and their families. The BCF has continued to provide support to the community in Belgium for over 200 years.


    Today, people come to the BCF in times of personal crisis; circumstances have changed but there will always be people who, for a whole variety of reasons, require emergency financial help and those who have longer term needs for assistance, advice and contact.

    The BCF can assist persons of British nationality or persons who are married to or divorced from a British citizen and can also help widows and widowers of British nationals regardless of nationality. Assistance may also be extended to the children of a British national. In all of these cases, the only proviso is that the person concerned is in Belgium.

    Henry

    Henry has lived in Belgium for about five years. He works as a freelancer and times continue to be difficult since COVID. His business, like many others, has not yet ‘bounced back’ to pre-pandemic levels. Referred to the BCF by a mutual contact, a series of financial measures have been put in place to help him until his income flow stabilises. Assistance is also provided in contacting the authorities to help smooth his administrative burden.

    The people the BCF  helps are young and old, long-term residents in Belgium and new arrivals, some just passing through, and come from all walks of life. The BCF is non-denominational and non-judgemental, and simply does what it takes to help get lives back on track. Three typical examples of BCF support are described in the mini case studies in this article.

    The majority of cases are referred to the BCF by their regional contacts, by its network of sister organisations in Belgium such as the Community Help Service (CHS), the Royal British Legion, RAFA, Holy Trinity Brussels, the Church of Scotland and by the. British Embassy. Other people come to the BCF through personal contacts.

    Gloria & Sylvia

    Gloria and Sylvia have been a part of the BCF family for many years. They both receive a very small state pension and a monthly stipend from the BCF. Having both (separately) endured COVID, they continue to live active lives in the knowledge that the BCF checks in regularly with each of them and maintains their financial support.


    The problems people encounter are many and varied and can turn lives upside down. For instance, coping with administrative requirements upon the loss of a spouse can often be daunting. Loneliness and isolation (often coupled with low income) can be longer-term problems for many people, not necessarily just the elderly. Language barriers only add to the difficulties and anxieties experienced by many people, often the most vulnerable amongst us.

    Erica

    Erica lived in the UK. Erica’s son lived in Belgium. Tragically, he was diagnosed with an aggressive, terminal illness and Erica moved to Belgium to care for him. This difficult situation was exacerbated by the fact that Erica knew no-one in Belgium, did not speak the local languages, and was terrified to drive in Brussels. She reached out to the BCF and we were able to extend the hand of friendship at a terrible time in her life, offering support and  alleviating her feelings of isolation.


    How can you help?

    The work of the BCF is facilitated by the availability of two principal assets: time, brought by BCF’s small team of volunteers, and money, from their generous donors.

    Donate - Donations to the BCF are recognised by the Belgian Ministry of Finance and donations of €40 or more a year are tax deductible. To make a direct donation to the Fund set up a bank transfer to ‘The British Charitable Fund asbl’ IBAN BE37 3101 8900 8428 and include the message “Donation” and your address and email so BCF can stay in touch – and also send you a tax certificate if appropriate.

    Volunteer – The case load for BCF is increasing and the team would welcome additional hands to help share the work. Volunteering for just a few hours can make a real difference to people.

    To find out more about the work of the BCF and how you might be able to contribute visit the BCF website or the BCF Facebook page.
  • 24 May 2024 2:23 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    As you might have noticed a General Election has been called in the UK for the 4th of July. By coincidence BBCA member, Chris, got their reinstated UK election vote (in postal form) confirmed a couple of hours before Rishi Sunak declared the election. If you haven’t reclaimed your right to vote in a UK election - and you want to – then here is Chris’s ‘how to do it’ guide.

    The UK Election Act 2022 changed the rules for British citizens who left the UK more than 15 years ago returning their right to vote in UK elections. The act allows UK citizens who have been resident outside the UK for an extended period to (re)register in the last constituency they were signed up in before leaving the UK.

    Our member, Chris, initially went to the website https://www.gov.uk/voting-when-abroad to register. He gave details of when he last voted in the UK, which in his case was Lichfield in 1997!


    He swiftly got an acknowledgement from Lichfield (see above) that his application had been received. And a few days ago, he was invited to apply for a proxy or postal vote (see below).


    Chris says: “It was quite an easy process. You needed details like your last address and your national insurance (NI) number.” He is looking forward to having an impact and exercising his reinstated right to vote.

    To do the same you need to get you skates on as - with an election called -  the clock is now ticking!

    The General Election Registration Timeline (all times are UK)

    • Deadline for registering to vote is 23h59 on Tuesday 18 June
    • Deadline for applying for a postal vote is 17h00 on Wednesday 19 June
    • Deadline for applying for a proxy vote is 17h00 on Wednesday 26 June
    • Deadline for applying for a Voter Authority Certificate is 17h00 on Wednesday 26 June
    • Polling day itself is from 07h00 to 22h00 on Thursday 4 July

    Registration resources

    Your starting point for voter registration is https://www.gov.uk/voting-when-abroad

    Chris’s experience with Lichfield was very good, but not all councils will be as proactive in communicating, for example, your confirmation of registration or suggesting that a proxy or postal vote may be appropriate. However they should respond to email queries.

    Having registered you can the apply for a proxy vote or a postal vote.

    Proxy Voting - Apply for a proxy vote - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

    Postal Voting - Apply for a postal vote - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

    Possibly the safest way to ensure your vote will count on the day, unless you happen to be in your old constituency on 4 July (and if you are, don’t forget to take your passport to the polling station), is to combine the two and register for a postal vote to be sent to your nominated proxy in the UK.

    Other useful sources of information include the UK Electoral Commission and our friends at British in Europe have also published an update to their guide to UK Voter Registration.

  • 15 May 2024 6:24 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    On Tuesday 28 May the Expat Welcome Desk is organising a free webinar in English focusing on the what, why, how and where of voting in your local (commune/ gemeente) election. The free webinar kicks off at 12 noon.

    The upcoming October elections bring another chance for all Belgians (and most international residents) to elect representatives to their local commune/gemeente.


    As the BBCA has already highlighted most non-Belgians have the right to cast a vote in these elections and local government in Belgium is small but mighty - the politicians running your municipality have a big impact on your daily life.

    All EU citizens resident in Belgium have the right to vote in the municipal elections, as do non-EU citizens who have been resident here at least five years; In many cosmopolitan Brussels-Capital districts the international voters could have a huge impact – so long as they sign up and vote!

    The webinar will address issues including:

    • The place of International Brusselers in local democracy
    • Reasons you should vote
    • How to sign up
    • How to use your proxy vote if you cannot attend in person
    • Any questions

    Registration

    This webinar is free to access, but you need to register before Friday 24 May by emailing: inscription@commissioner.brussels.

    The webinar will be moderated by Amélie Bovy, Senior legal advisor at the Expat Welcome Desk and the speakers will be Thomas Huddleston, International expert on citizenship and diversity, and Bryn Watkins, Project and Communications Manager, commissioner.brussels.

  • 15 May 2024 4:57 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    English Comedy Brussels combines the best of British sitcom with fine cuisine in its Fawlty Towers dining experience. Fawlty Towers is possibly Britain’s favourite sitcom. A first in Belgium, this themed evening stars John Cleese impersonator Ed Wells, who boasts the lofty stature to mimic the celebrated comic actor. Basil is joined of course by Manuel and Sybil to complete the Fawlty Towers team. The fabulous Barsey boutique hotel and restaurant on Avenue Louise serves as the Brussels location for Torquay’s most notorious guesthouse on Friday 24 May 2024.


    The fun starts from 19h00 with six foot, seven inch Ed Wells, exactly the same height as Mr Cleese himself, walking the walk and talking the talk as he leads his team on Gourmet Night to deliver an unforgettable culinary experience.

    Unlike the TV show's own Gourmet Night, Chef Nicholas Tsiknakos (Golden chef cap award, Greece 2008; Swiss Culinary cup winner 2005) won’t have ‘potted the shrimps, soused the herrings, pickled the onions or smashed the eggs in his pot under the table’, but will prepare a delicious three course dinner for your enjoyment (see menu below).

    For more information and to book your tickets click here. The ticket price includes an apéritif & a three course gourmet dinner. Other drinks to be paid separately.

    The menu

    Starter

    Goat cheese ravioli, truffle and pine nut sauce, crunchy arugula

    Or

    Beef Carpaccio, Parmesan espuma and mesclun Salad

    Main course

    Grilled “Coucou de Malines”, whole-grain mustard sauce, potato mousseline, and caramelised vegetables

    Or

    Sea bass fillets, risotto of cima di rapa and saffron sauce

    Dessert

    "Pomme vert"

  • 15 May 2024 11:04 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    The Bridge Theatre company has a new production in English coming up in June. The play is ‘Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune’ by Terrence McNally and directed by Robert Chevara. This tender and touching comedy follows two lonely souls who meet for a night of fiery passion but stumble upon the chance of finding a true connection.


    The play stars Debra Baker (Supacell onNetflix and It's a Sin on Channel 4) and Alan Turkington (Dead Hot on Amazon and Heartstopper on Netflix).

    The production will run from 6 to 22 June 2024 at RESET, rue du Ligne 8, 1000 Brussels. The performance contains strong language, sexual intimacy, and nudity and is, therefore, recommend for those aged 16 and over.

    Some performances also include a Post-Show Talk and Q&A with a Special Guest (30-45 minutes). Check dates on the booking page for details.

    There is also a group discount for bookings with 15% off for groups of 10 people or more.

    Find out more at The Bridge Brussels website

  • 13 May 2024 6:17 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    This Wednesday evening (15 May) our friends at the Arts Society Brussels will be investigating the aesthetics of athletics with writer and historian Simon Inglis. The venue is Woluwe St. Lambert town hall at 2 avenue Paul Hymans, 1200 Brussels and the event starts at 19h30

    The start of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris is drawing close. But Simon will talk about everything except sport! He will concentrate on the heritage, art, architecture, and design of the Olympics.


    Whilst most onlookers will focus on sport, art and design also play a part in the Olympics, as they have since the games began at Olympia nearly three thousand years ago. Greek art is replete with representations of athletes on vases, plates and bronzes. Every four years modern day hosts unveil dazzling new architecture, in the form of stadia, arenas, velodromes and swimming pools. The athletes themselves act as torch bearers for ever changing ideals of physical perfection. From nudity to Nike, from sand to synthetics, the Olympic story offers art lovers pure gold.

    Writer and historian Simon Inglis specialises in the architecture and heritage of sport and recreation. Since 2004 he has edited the Played in Britain series for English Heritage. Although sport and recreation might seem an unlikely subject for The Arts Society, non-sporty types need have no fear. Simon’s themes are architecture, design, heritage and popular culture.

    More information here.

  • 9 May 2024 3:42 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Cornish pasties are the iconic delicacy famously fashioned by those true Brits that live to the west of the River Tamar in the UK. Possibly one of the most famous foods to come out of the south of England, the Cornish have understandable pride in this tasty hand-held ‘all-in-one’ meal.

    Now, thanks to a dedicated BBCA team of pasty producers led by BBCA committee member Simon Pascoe (a true son of Kernow), Pascoe’s Perfect Pasties will be on offer at our Stonemanor BBCA event on 12 May at the Stonemanor Everberg store.

    Just 120 pasties have been hand crafted by the team over two days of intense effort.


    The first day saw the pasty team make and portion the buttery pastry.


    While day two was pasty production day with the preparation of the mix of tender peppery chunks of beef and melt-in-your-mouth vegetables, all wrapped and crimped within the pastry crust. The results have been officially described as “’andsome”.


    Huge thanks to Simon for the ins’pie’ration and the BBCA committee volunteers who gave of their time and ‘elbow grease’ to produce the pasties.


    Simons said: “It was a great team effort to get the 120 pasties done! And I’d like to also thank Jason from the Expatriate Bistro for the loan of his kitchen, Ryan at Stonemanor, and, of course, Julia at Wesley’s Irish Butchers in town for the generous donation of prime beef.”

    We are anticipating a good crowd for the Stonemanor event on 12 May. But if you want to sample one of Pascoe’s Perfect Pasties – you better not get there too late: there are just 120 of these delicacies and when they are gone, they are gone! Cheers!


    Pasties past

    The Cornish pasty goes back hundreds of years, but they’re most commonly known to have been a staple food of the working classes going back to the 1700s. Cornish tin miners used to take the pasties into the mines for a nutritious meal that would keep them going all day.

    The specific shape of the pasty was developed for a practical reason. The crimped crust on the side allowed the grubby miner to grasp the pasty. Levels of toxic arsenic in the tin mines meant that the miners needed to avoid ingesting any dirt. The crimp meant the miner could hold onto the crust, eat their pasty, and then discard the crimp.

    Of course, today, we can eat the crimp too!

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