It is a tradition on the occasion of the National Day, the King grants a series of noble favors (ten this year) and honorary distinctions (also ten). The list was published this Wednesday morning in the Belgian Monitor.
Among the lucky ones, we find the couple Charlotte Lhoist (former administrator of the Lhoist group) and André Querton (former diplomat), both invested in philanthropic projects. They are made baroness and baron, as are Bernard Gilliot, the former president of the Federation of Belgian Enterprises (FEB), and Cédric Blanpain, winner of the Francqui 2020 prize (the highest Belgian scientific distinction).
Hassan Jarfi, whose son was the victim of a homophobic murder, receives for his part the rank of Commander of the Order of Leopold. As for the writer Bart Van Loo and the director of Child Focus, Heidi De Pauw, they receive the rank of Commander of the Order of the Crown.
Here is the complete list of noble favors and honorary distinctions, as communicated by the Palace.
Are made barons or baronesses:
Martine Reijnaers: Since 1983, she has held various positions within the family business Reynaers Aluminium. She has been chair of the board of directors since 2021.
Brigitte Velkeniers-Hoebanckx: Professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). Head of the Endocrinology medical service at UZ Brussel. First woman president of the Royal Academy of Medicine.
Regina Sluszny: President of the Forum der Joodse organisaties, former president of the non-profit organization Het ondergedoken kind. She herself was a hidden child and bears witness to this in many schools.
Philip Heylen: Former municipal councilor and alderman of the city of Antwerp. Since September 2016, he has been business development manager within the Ackermans&van Haaren holding company. It makes a particular contribution to the economic influence of our country (file of the energy transition and in particular through the development of the hydrogen sector). Very active in the Flemish cultural sector.
Michael Pradolini: He first worked as a crew member on several ships. Later he worked for several shipping companies and founded his own company. In 2005, Michel Pradolini became chairman of Olse Merksem SC, which was renamed City Pirates Antwerp in 2014, a football club that has grown into a leading social project with over 1,400 members from vulnerable backgrounds. Through football, this project provides opportunities for children in Antwerp and allows them to acquire specific skills, paying particular attention to equality and respect.
Dominique Bron: Former head of the hematology department at the Jules Bordet Institute and ordinary professor emeritus at the ULB Faculty of Medicine. Full member of the Royal Academy of Medicine.
Charlotte Lhoist: Former director of the Lhoist Group. She has been involved for 20 years in the philanthropic field by releasing significant financial resources in charitable and social projects.
André Querton: Former diplomat. He has been involved for 20 years in the fields of publishing, media and philanthropy. He invests in this last field with his wife, Charlotte Lhoist. It is particularly involved in welcoming families of chronically ill children and refugees (by coordinating renovation projects), as well as in social housing and social education.
Bernard Gilliot: Former Executive Vice-President of Tractebel/Suez and former President of the FEB. He is the linchpin of the Reboot4You project, which focuses on NEETS – young people without qualifications who do not work and do not follow any training – by creating synergies between the private sector and National Defence. Under his supervision, a framework agreement has just been concluded to allow the training of hundreds of young NEETS.
Cedric Blanpain: Medical specialist. Researcher recognized worldwide for his work in oncology. Winner of the 2020 Francqui Prize. Director of the “Stem Cells and Cancer” laboratory of the ULB Faculty of Medicine.
Are appointed to the rank of Commander of the Order of Leopold:
Baron Didier Matray: Lawyer. Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Law of the University of Liège. Former Regent of the National Bank of Belgium. Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Belgian-Luxembourg German Chamber of Commerce. Vice-president of Cepani, the Belgian center for arbitration and mediation.
Regnier Haegelsteen: Former Chairman of the Management Committee of Banque Degroof SA Chairman of the Saint-Luc Foundation (Saint-Luc University Clinics). This foundation collects funds for the King Albert II Institute (cancerology and hematology institute) and for a proton therapy centre.
Hassan Jarfi: He worked as a professor of Islamic religion at the Athénée Royal Charles Rogier in Liège. Founder of the “Ihsane Jarfi Foundation” (created in 2012 after the homophobic murder of his son) whose objective is to fight against all forms of discrimination and racism. The foundation works for equality, against discrimination and for dialogue against intolerance.
Alicja Gescinska: She is a writer, television producer and philosopher at the University of Buckingham. She is vice-president of PEN Flanders and VUB Fellow. She regularly publishes columns in the written press.
Are appointed to the rank of Commander of the Order of the Crown:
Marie-Francoise Plissart: Photographer and video artist. It has profoundly renewed the genre of the photo-novel. His work on Kinshasa won him the Golden Lion at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2004.
Baroness Genevieve van der Straten Ponthoz: She played a crucial role during the Second World War in saving the children hidden in the “Foyer Léopold III” located in the Château de Beloeil. It will celebrate its centenary on August 21.
Bart Van Loo: Writer and lecturer. His books and radio series – including the famous “Les Téméraires – When Burgundy defied Europe” and his biography on Napoleon – make history better known to the general public.
Heidi De Pauw: Criminologist and CEO of Child Focus. Through her organization, she played a discreet and effective role in the recent transfer to Belgium of some forty disabled Ukrainian children and Belgian children from Syrian prison camps.
Ann Van Hoey: She made her debut as a ceramist at the age of fifty. Between 2012 and 2018, she won several awards abroad. His works are exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, including the MRAH in Brussels, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York and the Cheongju International Craft Museum in Cheongju, South Korea.
Anneleen Lenaerts: After studying notably at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and at the Normal School of Music in Paris, she was appointed solo harpist of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera in 2010. Between 1997 and 2010, she won 23 important prizes at international harp competitions.