We are very sorry to have to announce the death of our treasurer Robertina Van Damme last Tuesday at her home in Borsbeek.

Robertina was one of the very first members of the Ban Sen Juku. As well as practicing aikido herself and teaching the children’s class in Antwerp, she took on the task of treasurer when the school was established thirty years ago. She performed this often thankless task with great care and constant good humour, devoting a great deal of time to ensuring the school’s accounts were accurate and up to date. Her devotion was such that she sometimes cycled from Antwerp to Brussels (and back) for the Annual General Meetings. It is beyond doubt that she played an essential part in the creation and continuing operation of the school – indeed, it is hard to know what we would have done without her!

When she learned in autumn 2017 that she had cancer she accepted the situation philosophically. Being Robertina, she refused conventional treatments, knowing that they could not change the ultimate outcome. With characteristic resilience, she outlived the predictions of the medical profession by several months. She remained active to the very end, continuing to update the accounts regularly even when in great pain. And remarkably, she retained her good humour and determination to do things properly at a point where most people would have given up.

We shall sorely miss Robertina. We knew her as a gentle, generous and caring human being who showed great courage in dealing with life’s vicissitudes. She has been with us throughout the Ban Sen Juku’s entire existence and it is difficult to imagine a future without her. May she rest in peace.