It all got under way in 1974 with a small group of dynamic young ladies who wanted to make contact with newcomers to the region and to help them settle in.
The foundation of our Club is due mainly to the late Renie Adams, now Lady Adams, the wife of John Adams, a former Director General of CERN. For a long time she campaigned to obtain a meeting room, a barrack - any space whatsoever for the wives who came here with their husbands. It was not easy to find a space where they could all meet.
At that time, CERN was swarming with keen young physicists and there was no space for us. Initially, Renie created a group of volunteers to help the newcomers. For example, Pat Pattison invited all the English-speaking newcomers to her own home for coffee. In this way she was able to help them meet other people. They knew that Pat could help them with their telephone calls to doctors, dentists, etc., and could provide information about the buses, shops, schools and local customs.
Things changed after the construction of the new restaurant (at the start of the 1970s) “Chez Tortella” which was the name of the flamboyant manager. We were finally able to use two rooms on the mezzanine floor. That was how it all began. At first it was hard work on every front.
Jenny van Hove knew the Swiss rules and regulations very well and thus she very kindly wrote our “Constitution”.
It was practically impossible to get a work permit and many of the newcomers spoke no French. Each Tuesday the English and French Conversation Groups were held. We had French first and then English. As many ladies were already coming on a Tuesday for these groups, it was a natural progression to have the Coffee Morning on a Tuesday too. The Coffee Mornings took place on the second Tuesday of each month because the newcomers were also invited for tea one afternoon during the first week of each month. In the beginning the coffee was prepared with Nescafe and hot water that we brought in thermos flasks. Then gradually, we acquired better equipment and began to organize the Coffee Mornings around a particular theme, often a country. We had a very good response.
After that came the excursions and evening activities.
The Walking Group started off with Vera Geibel, a truly remarkable lady. She did not need a car, she knew every mountain, every bus or train itinerary, and we had the most marvellous and instructive walks possible. At the beginning, there were always two routes possible at each stage of the 3-day trips to accommodate both the better able and the less able walkers.
The French Conversation Group with Jenny, Alice and other leaders organized, with some older members, several interesting trips.
Thea Vermeulen initiated the “Intercity Group” which ventured on many different trips.
The Cookery Group: Victoria, as one of the young newcomers, got involved straightaway . Renie Adams persuaded Tortella to give a course in the restaurant kitchen. It was very interesting and amusing too. Then we started our own Cookery Group. In the beginning each person took it in turns to plan a meal with 3 courses for the entire Group. We cooked, we exchanged recipes and we shared the expenses.
Thus, we had our own activities when we left the fathers to do the baby-sitting! Every 5 years we let them pay to come to an evening – a dinner dance – which was very well organized by the Committee at the Chalet Suisse, in Flies France.
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