On March 17, 2017 Mrs. Hiltje van Eck was awarded with the British Empire Medal for all het good work for WWII Arnhem veterans over the past 30 years. She received the honorary medal from the British Ambassador in the Netherlands, Sir Geoffrey Adams and his Defence Attaché Colonel James Philips, during a short traditional ceremony at the ambassadors’ residence at The Hague.
As a child of the war Mrs. Van Eck (75) was directly involved because of the resistance activities of her father and neighbours. After a hard working life as a gymnastics teacher, she was asked by Arnhem veteran Tony Hibbert to organize a reunion for those involved with the Pegasus Escape, thus involving her with the activities of the Arnhem Veterans Club. The reunion took place every five years. Through these events she became good friends with many Arnhem veterans such as colonel John Waddy and sergeant Johnny Peters.
From 2006 onwards she was involved in organizing meetings and lunches for Arnhem veterans, together with resistance members, and officials of the Parachute Regiment, Airborne Commemoration Foundation and the British and Polish Embassy.
In 1995 Mrs Van Eck was asked to accommodate 150 Canadian WWII veterans in the region and to accompany them to several commemorations events of the national commemorations program. She took part in the ‘Thank you Canada and Allied Forces’ committee and organised similar gatherings in 200, 2005 and 2010.
Hiltje van Eck is still the Dutch contact for the Arnhem Veterans Club, nowadays part of the British Parachute Regiment. As such she is a member of the Airborne Commemorations Foundation as well as the Arnhem 1944 Fellowship, founded by Tony Hibbert and Sir James Cleminson.