The History of ECHA
I joined ECHA in 1991 and was privileged to be elected to the General Committee in 1994 when the conference was in Nijmegen - my fondest memory of that conference was racing Francoys Gagne to the Dessert Table at the Conference Dinner - he won! In 1998 I joined the Executive. I was then re-elected in 2004 and took on the role of Secretary until September 2012. I had many happy times during my close involvement with ECHA - the music at the Vienna Conference, the organisation of the Oxford Conference, the heat in Debrecen, moving the venue of the 2002 Conference to Rhodes. Vineyards in the dark in Pamplona, The stunning venue of the conference dinner in Lahti and the elegance of Prague. More hot weather in Paris and the great numbers in Munster.
During 14 years I had the privilege to serve as ECHA Secretary and Treasurer, succeeding Pieter Span in this office. My assistant Menna Jones took meticulously care of the membership files and correspondence, what I gratefully acknowledge. The implementation of credit card payment of membership fees was a significant improvement for easy money transfer from a multitude of countries.
Birth and Early Development of ECHA
In 1983 Franz Mönks introduced me to 'the world of the gifted', which was the start of things to come. In august 1986 I participated in the first Portuguese conference on gifted education in Porto (Fig 1.). During the conference the president of the Portuguese association, Luiz Nazareth and I agreed on a proposal to found a European association. The objectives of this association should be the study and development of high ability, including the international exchange of information related to that subject. This should also include countries in east Europe, behind the iron curtain. I sent this proposal to European participants of recent conferences on giftedness and to local associations in European countries. Almost all the responses were positive. Only some respondents objected: they thought that Europe was not yet ready for such an association and at least there should be a link with the World Council. (The reader should remember that in those days there was a strong resistance against special attention for the gifted.)