Absent friends

(by Ted Polet)


Otto Schouwstra

In May 2021 we lost our good friend Otto Schouwstra, who for many years was a well-known visitor to model railway shows and our meetings. Otto had studied physics and was ahead of his time in many fields of railway modelling. He was one of the first to work in H0f narrow gauge (6.5mm gauge), and experimented with under-layout sound systems and home-made electrostatic grass applicators. An unassuming, thoughtful man who was pleasant to be with. We wish Otto's family every strength.

photo below: Otto, together with Jaap Stuurman and René Boers at a meeting in 2004.

Photos of Otto Schouwstra and his work:    

Valerie Sibley

On October 21th, 2020, I received a call by Don Sibley, that the preceding day his wife Valerie (Val) had suddenly passed away. Don and Val were inseparable, Val accompanying Don to many events: steam engine rallies and model shows in the UK, the booking office and “Chef de Train” on the local narrow gauge line near where they live in Belgium, the shop at the tram museum in Brussels. They came to the Valkenburg show every year, showing Don's layouts.

Dear Val, you were such a good friend to us all, ever having a kind word and making the world a better place with your cheerful character and sense of humour. We wish Don and your family every strength.

Robin Winter

On July 4, 2020, we regrettably lost our good friend and fellow modeller Robin Winter. Robin and I exhibited together many a time, in Britain and in Holland. What struck me most about Robin was his irrepressible sense of fun, despite his ill-health. Robin was an expert on the railways of the Isle of Man and indeed published several books on the subject. He built a diorama of the Douglas workshops and surrounding area, which now resides in the Port Erin museum. His Port Foxdale layout was awarded the Reinier Hendriksen Trophy in 2001 - here is a photo of the occasion, taken by Mick Thornton:

Robin and Sue began visiting Holland shortly afterwards, exhibiting Port Foxdale at several shows including Valkenburg. Later he brought his WW1 diorama Ole Bill Springs, inspired by (I think) his granddad's memories of the trenches. We will not forget Robin's good companionship and the fun we had. We wish Sue, Tim and Annie every strength in their loss.


Port Foxdale video:    

Derk Huisman

On March 30, 2019, we regrettably lost another good friend. Derk Huisman was a member of Fremo rather than the 009 Society. His interest lay in H0m - 12mm gauge Swiss modelling. Derk was an accomplished mechanical and electrical engineer and there was little he couldn’t turn his hand to. His Swiss model railway Valdispère (H0m) was seen on the exhibition circuit for a number of years and he was closely involved in the work of Henk Wust. Derk mainly did the technical side of things such as track and electrics, and Henk built the baseboards and scenery. This began long ago with Henk’s forestry railway, and was continued over the years as Henk built Castle Rock, Mariahöhe, Punta Marina, Smeerdijk en de Corn Mill (the latter together with John and Jane Jacobs).

Thus, Derk was the quiet but indispensible man in the background. This role fitted the kind, soft-spoken farmer’s son from Groningen very well. Recently he had to devote most of his time to his family’s farm, which took precedence to his modelling. As spoke to Henk Wust on the telephone about him, he mentioned the photo shown below to me, saying there must have been something of a teacher in Derk - he is seen patiently teaching a young visitor how to shunt a train on Mariahöhe. He suddenly passed away during the work on the farm, close to his ‘roots’ again. He was 77 years old. We wish his family and his many friends every strength.

Michael Staats

Shortly after attending our Group meeting in Haarlem of June, 2017, suddenly Michael Staats passed away at far too young an age. Michael wasn't just a narrow gauge modeller, but he also owned a homebuilt draisine which he sometimes ran during narrow gauge events. His model railway of Saxon outline Daheeme was shown at several exhibitions at home and abroad:

Jos Bakkers

My volunteer colleague and good friend Jos Bakkers passed away in May, 2017. He wasn't a member of the 009 Society, but a close co-worker at the Katwijk-Leiden steam railway, where we together took care of the dioramas and layouts in the museum. His humour and craftmanship are sorely missed. Jos was a regular exhibitor during events in the museum - steam engines and card models spring to mind. His stunning work is still present at various locations in the museum, such as this card-built 'Brigadelok':

Dave Grassing

In January 2016, the sad news reached us of the sudden passing of our good friend Dave Grassing. Dave and Midge Grassing were regular exhibitors at the narrow gauge exhibition of Valkenburg. Their finely detailed and entertaining model railways were a joy to us all - typical is Stump City shown below.

The next photo is of one of Dave's tramcars of the Foss Landing layout, which was rescued and restored for work on my own tramway:


In April 2014 another of our members passed away: R.G.Kittle ('Kit'). The card I received from his family, with a Monty Python text, is typical of Kit – his indestructible sense of humour evidently got the upper hand again.

Kit made his life in Holland many years ago. He was an accomplished modeller, narrow gauge and standard gauge. I remember he organised a Surrey group visit to my layout many years ago. We often had long talks on the phone about trains, his beloved Southern electrics and Bulleid pacifics, old BBC series such as Dad’s Army, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, On The Buses and Oh Dr Beeching which he all fondly remembered. Once or twice I sent him some DVDs of recorded programmes. There was a time when he answered the phone with ‘hello Mr Mainwaring’ which I replied to ‘how are you doing Cpl Jones?’. Some photos of his work are shown below:

Eddy Bolderdijk

In August 2011 we regrettably lost our good friend Eddy Bolderdijk, who despite living at a considerable distance in the northeastern town of Assen put in a regular appearance at our meetings and shows. I was privileged to have several long talks on the phone with Eddy and I remember his unbeatable optimism, despite his illness. They were good and lively discussions about his modelling ideas and various other topics. He was planning a narrow gauge layout with a harbour station which he built the baseboards for together with his son Martijn (another of our members). Regrettably it wasn’t to be. His pleasant and cheerful company is missed by us all. In the photo below, Eddy (at left) is discussing something with Jan van Mourik.

Reinier Hendriksen

In April 2000 we lost Reinier Hendriksen, the driving force behind the Dutch 009 Group. He was the one who introduced me to the 009 Society and took me to Expong back in the 1990s, initially at Greenwich House, later at Swanley. Years later, he is still missed in a wide circle both in the Dutch Group and in England as a good friend and modeller. His memory is kept alive by the Reinier Hendriksen Trophy which is awarded at Expong every year.

His layout Moors End can still be admired at the Valkenburg museum near Leiden. For more information on his work, see his project page in this website.