Gerard Liebrand says goodbye to the 55-plus gym


BORCULO – Gerard Liebrand was an instructor at the Borculo gymnastics club for no less than thirty years, where he supervised the 55-plus group. On Tuesday morning, because of his announced farewell, he and his wife Annie were put in the spotlight during a reception in Farm Museum De Lebbenbrugge.

By Rob Weeber

In his speech, gymnast and activities committee member Jan Hilhorst looked back on thirty years of coaching and being together. “You are an exception”, he praised Liebrand’s long commitment. It all started with the ‘Welzijn Ouderen Borculo’ Foundation (SWOB), which took the initiative in 1988 to set up a Sports and Games Instuif for the over-55s. Due to the fact that the SWOB was not an executive body, Betula took on this role. At the time, the 55-plus target group did not connect with existing sports associations and the MBvO, the ‘More Exercise for the Elderly’. After initially starting with other supervisors, Gerard Liebrand was appointed in 1992. He was given a 1.5-hour contract, which was extended to 2.75 hours in 1996 due to the expansion of the group. In addition to gymnastics, volleyball and badminton were also played.

Don’t do crazy things

In 2011, Betula stopped organizing gym classes. The home base was moved to ‘t Timke and the name SWOB changed to ‘Sport en Spel 55+’. The group now consisted of 59 members with an average attendance rate of 75 percent. “That was thanks to your way of teaching gym, in which the social aspect kept coming back. You could be a social worker”, that is how Hilhorst described Liebrand’s efforts. According to him, the success was partly due to the famous words of Liebrand himself: ‘Don’t do crazy things, only do what you can, listen to your body.’

In all those thirty years, Liebrand was only temporarily absent once, namely when he broke his ankle during a holiday in Portugal. Thirty years after the start of the group, 24 participants are still active, despite the difficult corona time that prompted many to stop. Hilhorst pointed to Liebrand’s creativity and the many beautiful moments that were experienced together, such as the season closures, which were always accompanied by a joint bike ride with a stop for coffee and something delicious. Only then could the summer holidays begin. The special exercises at the opening of the hunting season around the Van Klumper farm were also one of the highlights every year.

Finally, Hilhorst pointed out that the club continues to exist thanks to Liebrand’s efforts. He managed to find a successor in the person of Gerlande Goude. As a thank you for his efforts, Liebrand received an envelope with contents from Joop Verstegen.

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