Some of the Brexpats HOV Team Members
Debbie Williams, Netherlands (Group Founder)
I founded Brexpats - Hear our Voice a few days after the referendum result and it has kept me busy ever since. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to live and work in the EU without restriction, and my daughter has benefited attending university. That future generations will not have these opportunities, under the same conditions as us, is a complete travesty. Being British and Welsh is very much part of who I am, but I also consider myself European; I am proud of, and identify with, the values and experiences of all three of these “labels”. I will continue to campaign to keep my European identity which is being taken away without my permission. Although semi retired, I spend up to approximately 50 volunteer hours a week campaigning for the protection of the rights of UK Citizens living in the EU, and EU Citizens living in the UK.
I was brought up in Llanelli, South Wales, attended the local grammar school and then joined the Women’s Royal Air Force as an Assistant Air Traffic Controller. I had hoped to travel the world but instead happily spent 9 years at RAF bases in Middlesex. After completing my service I transferred to National Air Traffic Services, for a further 9 fulfilling years as a Senior Sector Assistant. I also worked more recently as Team Leader for a Navigational Data Company in Surrey. In 1999, and after our daughter's arrival, my husband was offered a 3-year contract in Munich, Germany. We upped sticks and I became a full time mum for the duration. This gave us our first taste of living and working in Europe, and we were hooked. Even though it was hard at times, doing courses to learn the language, we did become fully immersed in German culture. My husband and daughter are now fluent German speakers; I still struggle but manage somehow. Running our own UK limited company and flitting between contracts, we have spent 10 years altogether, as a family, outside the UK: Munich twice, Brussels twice, Maastricht and we are currently based in the Hague.
Rory Stewart, Portugal
67 years are hard to summarise! Spring 2000 I travelled with my boat through England, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Germany, France, Spain and Gibraltar, and arrived in Portugal Autumn 2002. Winters in Southern Algarve were recommended for my then-partner's health. Freelance management consulting takes me to Denmark, UK, Holland... with clients from Norway, Denmark, UK, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Holland, Belgium, India, Ireland, Portugal and Switzerland. Portugal is a great base: same time zone as UK, friendly, reasonable cost of living, but still somewhat second world. Previously I worked for Shell International in UK, Malaysia and Holland.
Born in Sudan shortly after WW2, where I lived then Nigeria, I have dual Irish/British nationality.
When a student, I worked in France on the French/Belgium/Luxembourg border and was acutely aware of WW1. Two of my uncles worked in Moral Rearmament to heal the wounds of the past, especially in Europe. 70 years of peace is so precious. Europe is vital to me. My wife of ten years, left England for Portugal and Spain in 1986. My brother lives in Denmark and his children are Danish but fully European. I am angry my grandchildren will have fewer opportunities to travel and study. I joined BHOV to get constructively involved in preventing Brexit or, at least limiting damage. I switch off by sailing, preferably for extended periods living on board with our two cats. I read and play on the iPad!
Jan Glover, France
I moved with my husband, 2 year-old son and my parents to France in 2007. I worked for Gloucestershire Constabulary for 23 years as a radio operator/emergency call handler and in training. My husband, a farmer's son, was also in the police force. Stress and disillusion took their toll so we decided to try farming. Being too expensive in the UK, we searched around Europe and found a small farm in Charente. After 7 years' hard work we had to give up and my husband found a job. Now I am full-time carer for my mother, having cared for my dad before he passed away.
Being European gives me the freedom of choice as to where and what I do. I am part of Brexpats HOV as we represent a broad spectrum of EU citizens, all with our rights at risk. Communication and keyboard skills are my main assets! Twitter and mass emailing are my main activities in the group. For relaxation I like to read or watch TV and care for our two rescue dogs. I am obsessed with Cadbury’s chocolate and friends know they have to bring me some when visiting, and tea must always be made in a tea pot!
Clarissa Killwick, Italy
I had a good job in London, in corporate communications for a multinational, but my partner and I, frustrated with living in a shoe box, yearned for a different life. Our son's birth in 1998, then my redundancy, prompted us to take the plunge. After a false start of trying to work in tourism in the Dolomites, we gave up and moved down the valley to prosecco country. Crucially, this is the heart of the industrial North, which is crying out for mother-tongue English teachers. I qualified as a teacher, and love my work which is a great way of integrating into the local community.
The referendum left me in a state of shock. Fortunately, by chance I stumbled into Brexpats HOV and found a home. I am happy to use whatever skills I have, although admit to being a technophobe, to help Brexpats HOV campaign. Until the bitter end if necessary, because freedom of movement is not just for the lucky few, it benefits everyone.
In my free time, I enjoy sharing my British culture, collecting English china, organising charity tea parties, and trying to persuade Italians to drink tea with milk!
Sarah Pybus, Austria
Being an EU citizen is absolutely core to my identity. I spent my childhood in France, Netherlands and Germany. Five years ago, my partner and I moved to Vienna with his job. I am lucky to be able to continue working for my UK employer, a leading domestic violence charity, thanks to technology and the endless patience of my colleagues when it fails. Previously I've worked in housing and regeneration, and my current role focuses on organisational strategy and government relations. We have loved every moment here, relishing being part of the great big, albeit sometimes dysfunctional, European family- that is, until 24 June last year... The first few months after the referendum,I felt lonely and isolated but discovered Brexpats HOV which links me up with like-minded people across Europe, who are trying to protect our futures as EU citizens. We were planning to leave lovely Austria for an exciting new adventure in Romania early next year, but Brexit might have put paid to this.
My Britishness comes out with my mild obsession with bacon, suet, and cheese and onion Hula Hoops, which amuses my Austrian friends, along with my attempts to massacre the German language.
Brian Robinson, France
After a career as a technical writer, taking me briefly to Germany and Switzerland, and then a spell in the corporate world as head of BT publications, I finished the last 12 years of my working life in demanding roles in the city of London. It took a divorce late in life to finally enable me to retire. I was in no financial position to retire in the UK, so started refurbishing a small cottage in rural France where I had enjoyed numerous holidays. Life became worth living again with the arrival of my second wife. She is younger than me and has a few more years to work in the UK before joining me in retirement. As this is likely to be after Brexit, the conditions she will face when moving to the EU from the UK are completely unknown and very worrying. We could end up in a situation where I could not afford to return to the UK and my wife could find it impossible to move to France. Through Brexpats HOV, I have been able to channel my energy into fighting Brexit and all its disastrous consequences.
Pam Wallace, Spain
I live with my husband in Rojales, a small town on the Costa Blanca. We started coming to Spain around 10 years ago, first in our caravan for winter and then, a few years ago, we decided to stay here all year. My husband had been a self employed builder in the UK but had to stop for health reasons. We sold our house in the UK but decided not to buy here, renting instead. We are now fully integrated into the Spanish system including health care. Mick has received amazing care, and drugs he was told in the UK were not available to him. We love our life here and so does our little dog Lucy who is 16 going on 2, and our cat who wandered into our garden as a kitten and is now a family member. Veterinary care here is excellent.
We were devastated and angry with the referendum result, and vowed to do everything we could to stop Brexit. This has involved social media and writing thousands of letters to MPs and peers. We will never accept Brexit, and if we leave the EU will carry on fighting to get back in. The UK no longer feels like home, or the country we were born in, and we are now fully integrated Europeans.