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Saturday July 14, 2012

Getting 250 van Huizen family members together

THREE cousins met up in Singapore about six years ago and thought it would be awesome to have a large family reunion of the Alexis Odice family, the patriarch of the van Huizens in Seremban.

And this weekend about 250 family members will converge at the King George V grounds for a one-day rendezvous, starting at 7am with games and other fun activities, attending a sunset mass at the Visitation church and curtains down with a family reunion dinner themed “van Huizen Coming Home” at the Royal Bintang hotel.

May Goh, who conceptualised the idea, said it took about five years to piece the idea together and although it was nerve- wrecking, it was a worthwhile effort as five generations, some family members known and unknown within the circle, would have an opportunity to meet each other for the first time ever.

The big bash: The organising commitee gathering data to draw up the family tree at the home of Adrian van Huizen (fourth from left). Singh is extreme left and Goh (third from left).

The oldest of the cousins, Gerard Singh, 67, with the help of a small group of family members are drawing up the family tree.

“We are still gathering data and with whatever information we have in hand, hopefully would help us complete the van Huizen lineage,” said Singh.

Seremban has never seen a family reunion of this dimension and the gathering of the ‘vans’ from Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, Australia, England, the United States and Malacca, would be the largest of its kind here.

“Most of the van Huizen siblings have met briefly during weddings and funerals.

“The family reunion will provide the opportunity to know each other better,” said Goh.

She said the van Huizen lineage had extended to the Dankers, Hendricks, Sta Marias and Frobagos; some of the typical Dutch name where the roots originated.

Goh said the organising committee chose July as the preferred month since most of them who would be coming for the family reunion have their birthdays, wedding anniversaries or other joyous or significant days during the month.

“July was unanimously decided after we sent out the invitations to family members by fax, emails, phone calls and Facebook,” said Goh.

In the local scene, the van Huizen name is very prominent and when it came to hockey they had a good supply chain with personalities like the late Peter van Huizen who was a former hockey international and national goalkeeper.

He was in the national team that played at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.

Another player was Lawrence van Huizen who played in the 1958 Asian Games and former national player and coach Stephen van Huizen, the son of Lawrence and nephew of Peter.

Peter’s son Adrian van Huizen played for the Negri Sembilan state hockey team and during the same era, there were the likes of former hockey stalwarts in the van Huizen lineage like Raymond Tio and Mark Paul.

As much as they have given colour to Malaysian sports during their heyday, the family reunion promises to be just as colourful.

Goh said they chose to organise the family gathering this year since it is a leap year and hopefully similar reunions could be held once every four years.