We are celebrating our 75th anniversary as British Council in the Netherlands in 2020-21 by sharing 75 personal stories from people who have a special connection to both the UK and the Netherlands. Read the 75 NL-UK stories and join us in celebrating our 75th anniversary. Expand the boxes below to read the full stories by Kimberley Harvey, SAND-R and Jaron Reddy. 

Sand-R
Kimberley Harvey

SAND-R

Getting to know and love the UK almost reads like a love story,
You gave me another home,
You are the reason I met my now fiancée.
Thanks to you,
I learned to drive the wrong way and the right way at the same time,
You taught me, yes, I can be an artist
I started to dislike the little things you don’t usually notice,
The little things you don’t notice at first sight,
You start to find you actually like the little things,
How the fences around homes are all so different,
Different where I came from,
But all the same around every garden here,
How the tarmac has its marks,
Marks where it needed an operation,
With surgical precision but only that part that was hurt,
Got a plaster,
The rest just left as it was deemed perfect. 

In 2017 I came into contact with Stopgap Dance Company in Greece while representing the Dutch delegation in an exchange with European inclusive dance companies. I didn’t realize at the time that this would mean I had actually found a permanent home in the UK. Let alone that this connection would start by me crossing underneath the channel to declare my love to my now fiancée. 

The contact with Stopgap led to this apprenticeship which allowed me to cement my skills as an artist. My life completely changed as I am now a disabled migrant which further challenged the systems I grew up in. I truly hope that my journey across the channel will support more disabled artist emerging.

SAND-R

Kimberley Harvey

My link to the Netherlands is because of Irene van Zealand at Holland Dance Festival. We met in Målmo in Sweden in June last year at a choreographic residency the British Council and Europe Beyond Access. I had the pleasure to talk to and dance with Irene during this process. Our connection then took me over to Paris that Autumn to so as we could do some creative research together.

Now I am very proud to say that Irene has asked me to collaborate with her on the curation of the 2022 Holland Dance Festival DanceAble Symposium.  So I will finally be coming to the Netherlands in 2022 and I am very much looking forward to it!

Kimberley Harvey

Jaron Reddy

I’ve always been attracted to British culture and express that in the way I dress, the shows I watch and the music I enjoy. My very first album was utterly English: Absolutely by Madness. As I became a serious vinyl collector, UK music culture - whether it was ska, punk, indie, rock, house, grime or hiphop - always defined my taste.

I grew up speaking English at home and Dutch with my school mates. I’m totally bilingual. I remember me & my family getting weird looks, while we laughed hysterically about A Fish Called Wanda in the cinema, as the Dutch visitors missed the majority of pretty obvious cracks. Growing up, I always felt like I was having the best of both worlds. We were the lucky kids that got to enjoy chocoladeletters celebrating Sinterklaas ánd presents in our stockings at Chrimbo. 

My first serious nights out as a 17-year old were in the famous Amsterdam nightclub Roxy, where I experienced the house revolution first hand. Dutch tolerance, the acceptance of one other no matter what colour, sexual preference or religion was probably at a high in those days. I was proud to a part of that liberated culture, and I still feel it shaped me into who I am now.

Dutch gezelligheid is always impossible to explain to compatriots, in the same way the energy of British pub life is to a ‘cloggy’. Now, as I write this piece, I look forward to typical Dutch boerenkool with a (vegetarian) worst, OXO gravy and Coleman’s mustard, as soon as winter breaks. Together with my Dutch wife and the kids. The best of both worlds. 

 

Jaron Reddy 

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