Dick van Lent, one of the driving forces of Feadship for decades until his retirement as CEO of the Royal van Lent yard in 2016, has been awarded one of the highest distinctions in the Netherlands. He received the medal at a surprise ceremony at the yard just before Christmas for his tireless work not only for Feadship but also on behalf of the local community and a range of international charities.
The chivalric Order of Oranje-Nassau is awarded to a very select group of people who deserve appreciation and recognition from society for the special way in which they have carried out their activities. Dick is now an officer in this order, a distinction handed out to only a very small number of people a year. At the moment he retired, Dick was the longest serving CEO in the Netherlands having been at the helm of the yard for 33 years.
In handing over the award, the local mayor praised Dick for co-directing the growth of Feadship into one of the country’s premier exporters, stimulating employment in the local area around Kaag, and investing in enhancing the appearance of the island and its liveability for residents. His decades-long involvement in foundations such as an orphanage in India, a school in Ghana and various Dutch charities was also a reason for this distinguished award.
The presentation in front of hundreds of people came as a complete surprise to Dick. “I had been invited by the management to join the Royal Van Lent Christmas celebrations and was pleased to see all my former colleagues. I was standing relaxed at the back of the hall listening to the speeches when I suddenly saw members of my family arriving. Before I could work out what was happening the mayor was on the stage and I was being called forward. I was flabbergasted and all I could initially think of was that I’d dropped off my jacket in the office because it was too hot… How could I possibly collect such an official award dressed in a shirt and jeans?”
Dick soon recovered his composure and stresses how thrilled he was to receive such a prestigious distinction which, in his typical modest way, he is quick to stress could not have been achieved without the support of many people within Feadship and among family & friends. “When the Van Lent yard was given its Royal status back in 2001 that was a clear recognition of the achievements of all in this company. Feadship yachts also regularly win industry awards. But to be made an officer in the Order of Oranje-Nassau is a wonderful way to be personally thanked for all we have tried to do here in Kaag and further afield. The day was one of the highlights not only of my career but of my entire life.”