In Honour of Peter Lambreghts (August 2016)
Yesterday, 25th August, people from across Europe arrived in the Sint-Jozef church in Heide for the funeral of ENIL's Senior Officer Peter Lambreghts.
Peter Lambreghts was a very active officer of the European Network of Independent Living and a staunch and good ally of the Order of Saint Lazarus. It was Peter who lobbied for the Saint Lazarus Foundation to be a full and active member of ENIL. And Peter was indeed a good friend of the Order's Grand Chancellor, with both officers working hand in hand in various conferences in these last two years to increase awareness of the needs of disadvantaged and disabled persons throughout Europe.
Back to the funeral. The church could only just accommodate all the people who wanted to say goodbye to Peter. Family, friends, colleagues, Independent Living activists, national, European and international policy makers and the many people Peter knew and worked with in national or international organisations came together for support and to express how much they will miss Peter.
During the funeral, organized as a civil service, testimonies were given about Peter's life. They all emphasised Peter's unconditional friendship and love and highlighted his unrelenting fight for Independent Living and commitment to a society where all people are included. Many people were deeply saddened by Peter's loss and expressed their grief in comments. Below are only a small part of them, showing how much Peter was valued as a leader of the independent living movement and as a person.
"Dear ENIL (@ ENILEuroParl) please accept my truthful condolence."
MEP Adam Kosa on Twitter
"I was deeply saddened and shocked to hear the news that our great friend and Independent Living activist and leader Peter Lambreghts had died so suddenly and prematurely. His contribution to Independent Living, inclusion and equality will live on in the hearts and minds of his fellow colleagues who will continue this important work. My thoughts go to his wife, his two young daughters and his parents."
John Evans, Independent Living pioneer
"It was with sad regret and shock that I received the message of Peters dead this week. As former president of ENIL we shared many meetings and discussions in developing ENIL and the Independent Living movement, fighting for equality for disabled people. Peter was one of our movements most dedicated activist, hard-working and responsible. He`s strength inspired us all. He was one of the Independent Living movement` great leaders! We have indeed lost a true warrior and many disabled persons, both in Belgium and within ENIL will always be grateful for all his efforts and contribution. The reverberations of his words will be heard in the streets of Strasbourg and Brussels during future Freedom drive parades. The echo will remain in our hearts."
Vibeke Maroy Melstrom
Secretary General, Uloba - Independent Living Norway and former Chair of the ENIL Board
"I am shocked by Peter's tragic death. He was such a wonderful man, an inspiration to us all and tireless in his commitment to true social and economic inclusion. We shall miss his energy, always positive when faced with challenges and a great sense of humour. May you rest in peace, Peter."
"I am shocked to hear that! Peter was full of strength for our cause and has repeatedly tried to take us all and motivating to fight for our rights. The movement will miss him, he leaves a big gap! I am very sorry that I by our political situation in Germany had no more strength to help him on his way! The world is not fair!"
Andreas Vega, ENIL member
"Shocked by the sudden passing away of Peter, my colleague at the Board of EDF.
Disability Movement of Europe will miss him.
My deepest sympathy to his family."
Member of the Board - Action Europeenne des Handicapes (AEH)
"Colleagues at Lumos were deeply saddened to learn of Peter's death. We had great admiration for the positive ways he confronted the personal challenges he faced and for the enormous contribution he has made to the cause of inclusion. His commitment to the European Expert Group as one of its Co-chairs was exemplary and we will miss his knowledge, his insight and his warmth."
"I am profoundly shocked by this sad and unexpected news, the loss of one of the genuine heroes of the movement of persons with disabilities, a leader, a person of remarkable warmth and sense of humor. My thoughts are with Peter's family."
"I am so sorry. Great loss for the global disability movement"
"I am shocked. We from EASPD will remember you as a friend and an ally when developing strategies and implementing policies for better services for persons with disabilities. You really made a difference. Thank you!"
"So sorry to hear of this sudden unexpected tragic death of Peter. Although we didn't have the privilege of meeting Peter we hold his work in great esteem . Deepest sympathies and condolences to all his family and friends at this very sad time."
Dudley CIL, Ireland
"We wish to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Peter. Peter was an extraordinary and inspiring person who dedicated his lifetime to promote the rights of persons with disabilities.Thank you for having worked in cooperation with us for many years and for always pushing for more inclusive support services. We will never forget you."
"Thank you Peter from the board of the Association Belge contre les Maladies neuro-Musculaires (ABMM)." Jean Marie Huet