Rotarian Rudolf Heijdens, known to us as Rudy for his tireless work as founder, artistic director and maestro in 1986 of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regional Children's Choir now known as the Hastings and Prince Edward Regional Chorus. Rudy shared his musical gifts and under his steady helm, the choir became well known internationally, participated in festivals in Salzburg, Austria and Prague, won coveted awards and performed centre stage at Carnegie Hall and the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa and Toronto.  The goal of the chorus, inspired by Rudy was dedicated to support the musical and personal growth of young people and to provide a high level of artistic experience in both choral singing and classical and contemporary choral literature. (pictured L to R, District Governor Iosif Ciosa, Rotary Club of Belleville President Darrell Smith, Rotarian Michael Summers and Paul Harris recipient Rudolf Heijdens). In honour of his long and passionate contribution to the Rotary Club of Belleville, Rudy was presented with a Paul Harris + 3. 
Rudy’s love of music flowed through to the Quinte Rotary Music Festival, a natural connection as sponsor for over seven years at the gold and platinum levels in order to stimulate the growth of the festival and encourage others to ensure music was kept alive and well in the Quinte area.  And that he has done!  In addition to his involvement in the music festival, for 33 years, Rudy served as organist at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Belleville and every week during our Rotary lunch meeting, Rudy marched us in to O’ Canada and provided accompaniment to augment Richard Tie’s sing-along, much needed based on most of our singing abilities.  Rudy inspired confidence in us all through music.  Great fun.
Born in the Netherlands, Rudy and his family survived the German occupation of the Netherlands before immigrating to Canada in 1951. A student of the organ, he continued his musical and post-secondary education in Canada and entered the teaching field. After moving to Belleville, he was offered the position of Curriculum Coordinator-of-the-Arts with the then Hastings County Board of Education, a position that he held until his retirement in 1993.

Rudy was five years old when the war broke out in Europe and he has shared his memories, both sad and happy of those years, particularly when Holland was invaded in May 1940.  He remembers the bombing, the people who were killed, the people who lost their homes, businesses that were destroyed, schools, hospitals, churches and the entire city centre being destroyed.  Closer to home, his grandparents lost their home and their business, followed shortly after during the winter of 1944-45 where there was no food.  Thousands of people died of famine, cold and disease, but vivid in his mind was Rudy’s recollection when the Allies liberated Holland and dropped food from the skies and bought hope to everyone.  Rudy is very proud of his heritage.
Steady at the helm in music, Rudy was also steady at the helm in his 28 foot long Ruhaven sailboat and sailed all over the Bay of Quinte, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.