“Early on, Erich Walser recognised the huge significance of issues surrounding age and generations for the stability and prosperity of our society”, praised Stefan Loacker, CEO of the Helvetia Group, in a laudatory speech for his predecessor and long-time colleague. The Generations Prize, which was presented as part of the tenth World Demographic & Ageing Forum (WDA), recognises particular international achievements in promoting understanding between the generations. This year the accolade was named after Erich Walser for the first time, in memory of the WDA founder-member and longstanding CEO and Chairman of the Board at Helvetia.
The winner of this year’s prize is former Federal Councillor Adolf Ogi. In a laudatory speech, Ogi’s one-time colleague in office, Moritz Leuenberger, recalled how the friendship between the two magistrates became famous across the nation in 2010 when they embraced at the breakthrough of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. “With courage and great heart”, Adolf Ogi worked to achieve his visions, Leuenberger continued, and thus fostered cohesion between the generations. One of these visions was the NEAT, the Gotthard Base Tunnel. It was thanks to his enthusiasm, Leuenberger said, that he was able to win over Swiss people of all ages for such a major engineering project. Leuenberger assured his friend: “You’ve earned this prize!”
After the laudatory speech, Adolf Ogi personally presented the WDA Generation Club’s regional recognition prize the to the “Krönli Kids” of SC Brühl St. Gallen 1901. The former Federal Councillor, himself a passionate climber and skier, pinpointed the significance of sport in teaching life-lessons. It teaches children discipline, fairness and integration, and shows them they can make mistakes every now and again. And whenever they have to deal with defeat or a red card, the consequences are far less severe than in later professional life. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Adolf Ogi has decided to donate the 20,000 francs with which Helvetia endows the Erich Walser Generation Prize to his own foundation “Freude herrscht” – in line with his commitment to youth sport.