A faltering thank you as she stood there with clammy hands was the best Lonneke Janssen Duijghuijsen could manage when she was handed her research grant from the Frimurare Barnhuset Foundation by Queen Silvia of Sweden.
The Frimurare Barnhuset Foundation is a fairly conservative freemasons' organization which supports efforts to ensure adequate care and a sound upbringing for children and youths. One of the ways it does this is to provide grants for scientific research on this target group. Lonneke's research on the effect of maternal diet on the development of allergic sensitization in infants fits the bill perfectly. The conferral took place at headquarters. ‘They've got really beautiful great halls and the organization is a world in itself, in which it seems as though time has stood still for about 50 years.'
The grant - ‘not that impressive, it sounds like more because it's in Swedish kronor'- is enough to cover 25-year-old Lonneke's costs in Sweden and her last months of study in Wageningen: 54,000 kronor (5,800 euros). ‘A very nice supplement, really, considering I have to say goodbye to government funding from this month. And of course it is also very nice to see that your hard work is appreciated. I couldn't have wished for more, could I?'