Romance in Rotterdam

XX60 ZW tribune

Over the past 75 years, quite a few love affairs started during the CHIO. Last week, Betty Westgren-Brugman and Anders Westgren celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. As a surprise, their daughters arranged a lunch at the Rotterdamsche Manège because it was there, just over 55 years ago, that Anders and Betty first met each other.

The daughters Birgitta and Pia picked up their parents on the morning of their 55th wedding anniversary with flowers and cake. Then they left together... Betty and Anders had no idea where the trip was going. It wasn't until they passed the white villas on Plaszoom at the roundabout of Kralingseweg that Betty began to suspect something. The taxi stopped at the Rotterdamsche Manège, where a festively set table awaited them at Bistro de Jockey Club. Jan Willem Körner, who exchanged memories with the couple and gave them a tour of the grounds, was also there. Their best friends Pia Arts and René Hermans were also present.

Pia and Betty were both show jumpers. Pia Arts, daughter of chef d'equipe Ben Arts, competed at CHIO with her horses in the sixties. Betty, on the other hand, was known for her involvement in hunting horse classes, which the Brugman family was particularly renowned for. Both women were young and could be found in Kralingse Bos every year during CHIO Rotterdam. Betty reminisced, "It was in the years '66/'67 of the last century. We loved it. We watched the Nations Cup from the stands, with Harrie Wouter van den Oudeweijer, Anton Ebben, Jan Maathuis, and Tjeerd Velstra on the Dutch team. And every evening it was party time. In these days, the competitors were invited to the City Hall on the first evening by Mayor Thomassen. The following evenings there were also parties, at Heineken, at the Spido and the Cocktail d’Adieu at someone's place in Kralingen.

During the reception at City Hall, a Swede suddenly approached us. That was Anders. He introduced himself politely and then asked me to dance later at a discotheque. I found him so polite, he really impressed."

Anders Westgren takes over the conversation. "I was there with the Swedish team. Four of my friends were good show jumpers. Together with them, I traveled from another competition to Rotterdam for the CHIO and the Nations Cup. My friends told me beforehand, you are our chef d'equipe. (laughs) That's how it was in those days. We ended up in the middle of the rankings with the Swedish team. Nowadays, Swedish riders jump much better.

Anyway, we were at the reception at City Hall and said to each other, we should arrange something for when this reception is over. That's when we saw these lovely ladies and thought, let's approach them."

Betty continues, "He was such a charming and proper man. I also remember well that during the Nations Parade at the CHIO, where all riders and team managers lined up and all national anthems were played one by one live, he stood straight for each anthem. That was so special. "With a background as a reserve officer, that was instilled in me, so for me, it was the most natural thing in the world," says Anders.

On February 28th, Anders and Betty got married. Swedish show jumper Jana Wannius was their witness. Horses have always played a significant role in the lives of Anders and Betty. They lived in Sweden for several years and have been living in the Netherlands again for some time now. We hope that the reunion in Kralingse Bos has brought back beautiful memories for them and look forward to welcoming Betty and Anders at the 75th CHIO Rotterdam.

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