Congrestolken, specialists since 1976
Over 50 years ago, Henri Methorst laid the foundations for the present cooperative association. In 1953 Henri, a linguist with a background in law and active in publishing, was among the first Dutch interpreters at the European Coal and Steel Community, one of the precursors to the present European Union. Around that time the Netherlands became a popular venue for international conferences, especially medical ones. Henri Methorst was asked to recruit teams of interpreters. Because conference interpreting was just starting to crystallise as a profession, interpreters back then were mostly educated professionals from the Netherlands and abroad, with multilingual backgrounds. They had to learn interpretation by doing it, as it had yet to become the specialised profession it is today. By organising interpretation for these early conferences in the 1950s, Henri gradually became known. This led to the Methorst Bureau. One of the first clients was the World Dental Congress (FDI), which to this day remains a regular Congrestolken client.
In 1976 Henri transformed his one-man operation into a cooperative association, teaming up with the colleagues who already worked with him. He remained chairman of the board until 1988, retaining his interest in the profession into his golden years and regularly attending the six-monthly members' meetings. Henri Methorst died on 10 August 2007, aged 98. In his memory the members of Congrestolken have introduced the Henri Methorst Award, which is presented every two years to a person or organisation dedicated to multicultural causes, focusing on people who have difficulties or challenges with languages.