Nathan Starmans studied International Business Administration at Erasmus University and was a member of both the Skadi rowing club and the RSC/RVSV student society. “Nathan was a very athletic guy and ascended Mont Ventoux [a mountain in southern France, famous for being included in the Tour de France cycling race – ed.] by bike twice. His parents came up with a plan to do that again this summer, with friends, in his honour. They thought they might raise some money for a charity that way,” said the initiator of the campaign, Nathan’s friend Anne Philipse.

The charity they came up with was Diergaarde Blijdorp, which is incurring heavy losses due to the pandemic. Nathan grew up in Rotterdam suburb Schiebroek-Hillegersberg and used to regularly visit the zoo. He was very passionate about animals. “You name a type of animal, and he had one as a pet at one stage, ranging from fish and birds to leopard geckos. Nathan bred his own fish, too. He would buy special types of guppies in special colours, given to children, and would then sell them to others,” says Oscar Galjaard, a friend of Nathan’s since secondary school.

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In return for donations to the zoo, Nathan’s friends and family plan to ascend Mont Ventoux by bike in a large group. “Nathan did that himself too. He cycled a lot with his Dad, and he was good at it. He actually did it in one hour and 55 minutes,” says Oscar. “It will be a first for me. I just bought a bike, and we’ll be training hard in the next few months.”

The group, which calls itself TeamNathan4Blijdorp, seeks to raise €21,500. The number is a reference to the 21.5 kilometres the cyclists will have to pedal uphill in July on the slopes of the mountain in southern France. They started their fund-raising efforts this week. “We’ve already raised nearly half of that amount,” says Anne. “We’re getting donations from many places, which is great to see. From neighbours, from Skadi, from RSC/RVSV.”

Anne and Oscar also plan to ask companies to sponsor them, which is entirely in Nathan’s own spirit. “He was highly driven and tremendously entrepreneurial. After the guppies, he and Oscar bought expensive sneakers at a good price for a while. They would then sell them at a profit a few months later. Once he made up his mind to do something, he would expend all his energy on it.”

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