Frans Herpelinck, Dirk Wynants and Stef Ryon win the Poperinge Cultuurprijs

Poperinge Culture Awards were presented on Saturday evening at OC Die Croone in Proven. They went to Frans Herpelinck (Most Meritorious Poperingenaar), Dirk Wynants (Cultural Ambassador of City) and Stef Ryon (Price for the Silent Power) respectively.

Frans Herpelinck (89) from Boeschepestraat in Poperinge was awarded the title ‘Most Meritorious Poperingenaar’ due to a variety of activities. Currently, he still supervises two groups of amateur painters: De Bresschilders in Poperinge and Pictores in Beauvoorde.

“In 1955 I became the first lay teacher at Stanislas College in Poperinge, among thirteen clergy teachers. I taught physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology. The latter in particular caused quite a stir because I had to reconcile the scientific theory of evolution with the account of creation. Before my first lesson, I had hung pictures of seals nursing. But they were immediately taken away by someone who was ‘taller’ than me and dressed differently. I was a heretic in their eyes. But between the lines I also tried to inspire my students to other subjects and ideas. And it always collided between science and religion, between evidence and assumption. I had a lot of headwinds because I didn’t stick to the subject that was required at the time,” says Frans Herpelinck.

“Over the years I had also become more and more interested in philosophy and art (history). I started drawing and painting myself, and my hobby became a passion that I wanted to share as much as possible. For more than 20 years I have been painting weekly with a group of artists in a studio in Beauvoorde and also in the Service Center De Bres in Poperinge. Meanwhile, I have already published more than a hundred issues of the free membership magazine ‘Pictores’, with all kinds of information that are diverse: technical, art historical, philosophical and semiotic, the meaning of signs and symbols. I have always adopted a social and broad attitude, with great interest in all possible areas. Anyone who sends me an email ( will receive a hundred issues of my magazine digitally,” says Frans, who received a check for 750 euros.

But Frans was also very active in many other areas. For example, he was one of the founders of the local Red Cross section, he was one of the first lifeguards in the swimming pool at the nunnery in Poperinge, he was secretary of the soccer club SK Poperinge, and he took dance lessons with his wife Marie- Madeleine Caenen. . Stefaan Declerck, one of his former students and later co-teacher, in his eulogy called Frans Herpelink a Homo Universalis, as Leonardo da Vinci intended.

Dirk Wynants

Poperinge’s cultural ambassador became entrepreneur Dirk Wynants (58), managing director of Extremis. About 30 years ago, this interior designer (interior and furniture design) from Gierle (Kempen) followed his love for the Westhoek. “I designed and made my first piece of furniture, Gargantua, in my garage. It was a round table with four integrated benches, each individually adjustable in height. In the meantime, I work with around sixty employees in our company buildings in Proven. We design designs and assemble the furniture, which is mainly intended for outdoor use. We call them ‘Tools for Togetherness’. We have the parts made by local companies that are more specialized in this. We primarily use steel, stainless steel and iroko wood. Meanwhile, we have been awarded about eighty international titles and awards and we export to about 65 countries. Furniture is truly a form of culture because it helps to shape the world,” says Dirk Wynants.

“Eleven years ago I was invited to China to teach industrial design in Shanghai. The Chinese love that. They discovered me through the many awards I won around the world. Meanwhile, I went to that country 35 times, but for the last four years I have had to teach online because of corona. Chinese students are no longer allowed here,” says Dirk, whose biography is published in a thick book.

“I want to return the money I got here to the city in the form of a piece of furniture. It’s just not yet clear where it will be. If you have an idea, let us know via I expect as many emails as possible with suggestions”, says Dirk Wynants, who also planted a hop field near his home along the Watouseweg, and brews his own beer, Tremist.

Steve Ryan

A third category was the ‘Silent Force’, people who work behind the scenes in the cultural world. Marc Heb has been a musician in Harmonie St.-Cecilia for 50 years and was secretary there from 1991 to 2008. Since then he has been manager of the music library, the score and the room. Third, he received a check for 250 euros.

The duo Gilbert Milleville (78) and Marc Van Bruwaene (78) came second and received a check for 500 euros. They have known each other since the days of the Poperingse Revyen, when Gilbert was an actor and Marc was a technician. Now they are both active in the drama group Langhoirs Victorinnen.

Stef Ryon (69) won the category and received a check for 750 euros. “Together with a group of like-minded people, I try to keep little Haringe alive and well. I actively participate in the realizations of the Kulture Community, the organ concerts, Blaublues, the organizations in the cycling club Haringe Sportief, the family party, the annual Blind Ride for the children’s cancer fund and as a player with Toneelgroep Haringe. Recently a parish responsibility has also been added, I jump in when other associations need help, I also update the village website and learn as greets to let everyone interested know the rich history, treasures and secrets of our charming village. As an employee of Westhoek Verbeeldt, I also share that history online, and every month I look back on our region 40 years through photos and texts in De IJzerbode”, says Stef Ryon, who really is the devil in Haringe.

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