By Bev Haigh-Jones


“In 2014, I was one of those pesky foreigners that dared to come and live in the UK, not knowing that I’d be wearing the ‘Not Welcome’ sign around my neck a mere two years later. My first instinct was to pack up and go, but my husband and daughter wanted to stay. And so, I started casting around for ways to help the anti-Brexit movement in Cornwall and joined the Cornwall for Europe team. We may have failed to stop this needless break-up, but being part of CfE has helped to heal my Brexit wounds and find a whole bunch of people who truly welcome me to the UK – in addition, of course, to the friends I’d made at uni and when living in Cornwall. At the end of the day, though, I chose to return to Amsterdam and now only spend five months a year in the country. I’ve left the country the best of me, mind: our daughter applied for and received settled status. Her future is among you – do treat her well, please.”

This time, the subject of our “Meet the Team” is the author of all the previous editions, Anita Graafland and I am privileged to be able to tell you a little about her..

Anita is one of a kind. A dedicated committee member of Cornwall for Europe and Editor-in-Chief of the newsletter, even though she is a Dutch national who, because of Brexit, must now spend most of her time back in the Netherlands. This was not always the case, as you will no doubt see from the “Brexit – My Story” this month. Anita has a long-standing love affair with Cornwall and would be here for close to eight months of the year if circumstances allowed. Sadly though, that is no longer possible.

Anita’s connection with Cornwall and CfE however, is too strong to break. Her young daughter lives in Falmouth and attends the University, there is a memorial plaque to Anita’s husband on a bench in Trebah Gardens and she has an impressive circle of friends, both within CfE and elsewhere.

Despite a series of significant emotional and physical trauma over recent years, Anita remains one of the hardest working people that I know. She has the honest and forthright nature displayed by main of the European nations, but she is kind-hearted and generous to a fault! (As one of the recipients of the various Dutch delicacies that find their way to the UK with Anita’s every visit, I can vouch for that fact). Despite being an extremely busy, self-employed translator, she is a formidable editor of the newsletter, ensuring that our little three-person team produce something readable, entertaining, and grammatically correct. She sets the deadlines and ensures that we keep to the schedules. On top of which, of course, she writes some of the articles herself.

Anita rarely misses a meeting either, whether it be a monthly committee meeting, a weekly newsletter meeting, or our regular Friday night social for the CfE committee. This is one area where Covid created a benefit as all meetings are now carried out via Zoom, thereby allowing Anita, and our other European based committee member, Rosemary, to attend every time. When circumstances allow though, there is nothing that Anita likes better than to be able to meet her Cornish friends face to face and this is something that all of us look forward to, whenever she pays the UK a visit.

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