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Lucas Von Hebel 1934–2022

Mar 16, 2022

ECHAMP is sorry to announce the death of our first President, Lucas Von Hebel. Informally known as ‘Luc’, he passed away on 22 February 2022, aged 88.

Lucas was President of ECHAMP from 1999-2005, instrumental in its inception and with the significant responsibility of steering the association through the first important years of growth.

His career spanned many years of active and prominent involvement at both national and European level in the herbal, homeopathic and anthroposophic medicine industries.

ECHAMP 15th Anniversary, European Parliament: Lucas Von Hebel, first President of ECHAMP (middle) with former colleagues and now Honorary Members (left to right) Max Daege, Nand De Herdt and Christa Hebisch, and reigning President Dr Gesine Klein (right)

A former jet fighter pilot, Lucas spent his later career at Biohorma, the Dutch and Belgian distributor of the products of A. Vogel. As Marketing Director, Lucas was a founding member and Vice Chair of the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Fytotherapie (Dutch Association for Phytotherapy) (NVF), from where, in 1989, he was active in the establishment of the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP), the umbrella organisation representing national herbal medicine societies across Europe. He became its Vice Chairman and remained active on the ESCOP board for many years.

From 1990–2001, he was Chair of the Herbal Medicinal Products Committee for AESGP (the Association of the European Self-Care Industry).

This European experience was invaluable when ECHAMP was established ten years later in 1999. In parallel to his work on herbals, Lucas was also General Secretary of NEHOMA, the Dutch Association of the Homeopathic and Anthroposophic Industry (now merged with Nepropharm, the Dutch trade association of manufacturers and importers of self-care products) from 1984–2001, and in this capacity responsible for hosting the secretariat of the European Project Group of the Homeopathic Industry (EPGH) (1988–2000), from which ECHAMP was born. Biohorma was one of the founding members of ECHAMP and Lucas was the natural choice for Chair of the Board of Management when it met for the first time at DHU in Karlsruhe in October 1999.

It was no mean feat to lead the first incorporated European representation for the homeopathic and anthroposophic medicinal products industry to its position as a prominent and respected European organisation, recognised by the European institutions, industry and other stakeholders.

Lucas brought charisma, friendliness and the professional experience of his involvement in ESCOP to the young ECHAMP. He was instrumental in creating its special culture, insisting first of all that the association name and working language should be English and secondly that, contrary to the culture of many of the members, all colleagues should be on familiar, first name terms with each other. He emphasised the importance of building alliances, bringing his own contacts and reputation to bear, and these things set the tone for the strong working relationships, the successful collaboration and the well-functioning network which still thrive today.

In 2005, Lucas handed over the Presidency of ECHAMP to his successor, Max Daege. Lucas’ subsequent retirement from the ECHAMP Board of Management in April 2007 was commemorated with a surprise farewell party at the tenth ECHAMP Membership Assembly in Bonn. At the reception, attended by some high profile colleagues from Lucas’ past, Max reminded participants how the former pilot had brought to the young association “the guidance, experience and leadership essential to be able steer the small ECHAMP plane through the clouds and land it safely on the Brussels runway.”  He explained how, “despite some problems with air traffic control at the beginning,” Lucas was able to form and orient the team with the “famous and very personal spirit” that laid the foundations for the working methods at ECHAMP.

At his leaving do, Lucas was presented with an original copy of the sixth and last edition of Samuel Hahnemann’s ‘Organon of the Healing Art’ published in 1921, and a parchment certificate inscribed with the words of Hahnemann: “Only the immaterial principle which gives life to the organism in a healthy or ill state, is the force that animates it so that it is able to live its life.”

Lucas von Hebel was subsequently nominated Honorary President of ECHAMP in recognition of his long-standing involvement. He undertook this role with characteristic charm, continuing to attend important ECHAMP events, including the fifteenth ‘birthday’ celebrations in Brussels in 2015 (see picture). In time, he was joined by other Honorary Members, Max Daege, Nand De Herdt (both also former Presidents), Christa Hebisch (former Vice President) and former Board members Werner Driehsen and Martin Murray, but Lucas has always remained the first and most senior member of this special ECHAMP ‘club’.

On behalf of ECHAMP’s Board of Management, current President, David Reckeweg Lecompte, recognises the enormous contribution of his predecessor, saying “23 years later, we look back on the energy, expertise and dedication that Lucas brought to the cause of homeopathic and anthroposophic medicinal products. We are most grateful to him for his outstanding service.”

Lucas was twice widowed, surviving both his first wife, Hanny, and his second wife, Cora. He leaves behind three children and his grandchildren, who held a farewell ceremony in his honour in Breda on 5 March. Knowing that the Covid measures had been lifted by then, Lucas was comforted to know that his family and friends would be there together without any restrictions.