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2 September 2019

‘It’s wonderful to put Piet’s money to good use here’

The first soft glow of LED lights flooding the mills at Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage’s 2018 Illumination Week was received well by scores of photographers present for the event. Purchasing the low-energy lights was made possible in part by a gift from the Elshout Foundation.

Although the name of the Elshout Foundation may not ring a bell for most international audiences, the man who founded it is a true local hero: Piet de Bruin, born and raised in Kinderdijk, happened to win the main prize of 7.5 million euros of the Postcode Lottery back in 2004. To many Alblasserwaard residents, Piet’s cigarette smoke-filled living room is still a fond and vivid memory.

Winning the lottery

“Whenever you drop the name Piet de Bruin around here, everyone knows exactly which foundation you’re talking about”, says Han Koolmees. The Nieuw-Lekkerland local is the treasurer of the foundation. It was established after Piet won the lottery as a means of making a 150,000-euro donation to fund an artificial grass pitch for Kinderdijk football club VV DE Zwerver. After De Bruin passed away in 2017, the remaining amount was put under the guardianship of the foundation.

The new low-energy lights.

The new low-energy lights.

Any organisation that can use a few extra pennies is free to submit an application to the De Bruin Foundation. In recent years, beneficiaries have included the Balkengat Playground Association, the Oud-Alblas First Aid Services, the local billiards club, De Zonnebloem, an organisation hosting trips for the elderly and the infirm. Now, the Kinderdijk World Heritage Foundation (SWEK) has been added to the list. The Elshout Foundation grant has facilitated the purchase of new LED lighting, all set to cast the windmills in glorious floodlights starting today.

Simply spectacular!

Simply spectacular!

“Of course, it’s wonderful to put Piet’s money to good use on things like these,” assures Koolmees, who was a close friend of De Bruin for some four decades. “Piet had Kinderdijk written all over him. As long as the money was spent on something in Kinderdijk, it was perfectly fine with him.” Incidentally, De Bruin himself did not decide on any funding grants; even when he was still alive, that authority lay with the foundation’s board members. These days, the board consists of Koolmees, Grietje Heijstek (chairperson), and Cees van den Heuvel (secretary).

September 7

Today will see the kick-off of the Kinderdijk Illumination Week’s 47th edition. Every evening will see the mills bathing in glorious LED lighting from 8 to 10.30pm, and until 11pm during Friday night’s Windmill Market. On Saturday September 7, Princess Beatrix will honour us with a visit as she officially opens our new Visitors Centre. On that evening, all other activities have been cancelled, and our catering facilities will be closed.

Illumination Week Schedule

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