Full English text New Year's Speech

Ladies and gentlemen,
Mayor of Wageningen Geert van Rumund
I have mixed feelings today. First of all, I wish you a happy and healthy 2021. But I would have loved to do that personally at our New Year's reception and shake your hand. However, we all know that this is not possible this year, so I am glad to be able to speak to you in this way.

On last year’s New Years reception I announced that I would retire as a mayor on November 1st. On that occasion I could never imagine that I would be sitting here today. Not that I'll be staying another seven months longer than I thought back then. Not that I was going to wish you a happy New Year in this digital way. And not that I would be on this spot. I am here in my rebuilt office at Museum De Casteelse Poort. It is part of the exhibition ‘The choice of the mayor’, which opened last year.

But I don't want to look back too much on last year. A year that we all want to forget as soon as possible. You may have lost loved ones, maybe have been very ill yourself, or have been worried about friends or family members. Companies were on the brink of a collapse, people lost their jobs, visitors were not allowed to visit nursing homes, schools had to close, we had to work from home.

But with the start of the new year, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The arrival of the vaccine offers hope. Until then, we all still have to bite the bullet and hold on. And I am confident that Wageningen and the Wageningers can do that. We have proven this over the past year. Most Wageningers are sticking so well to the rules. Many of you helped a vulnerable neighbour, family member, friend or acquaintance. Heart-warming actions have been initiated. Sports clubs did everything they could to keep youngsters exercising. Restaurants and pubs provided bigger terraces. The cultural sector presented a surprising and creative summer. I really appreciate all those large and small initiatives. Wageningen has proven that together we can make a difference. We are going to prove that we can do it this year as well.

But together will be with slightly less Wageningers than last year. At the end of December, our city had 39,686 inhabitants, 17 fewer than last year. I have not analysed the figures, but I’m sure the reason for this are the special circumstances of last year. What is striking is that almost 10% more people died than in 2019. Far fewer people from outside Wageningen came to live here than in previous years. Another significant figure is that the number of marriages has fallen by 15%. Fortunately, we still have six centenarians among us. One gentleman and two ladies of 100 years old, a lady of 101, a lady of 102 and a lady of 103 years old.

Wageningen keeps going on. You may have seen this in recent weeks in the cartoons with the barrel organ in the university magazine Resource and the local newspaper. We keep going on with all those fantastic people who look after each other and who ensure that our city is that special place where I have been your mayor for over 15 years. Wageningen will go on this year with a new mayor, because on June the 1st I will really say goodbye. But that new mayor will also be my mayor, because my wife Corrie and will stay in this unique city. And then I hope to be able to shake hands with you in the course of the year as an ordinary citizen. I also hope that, if Museum De Casteelse Poort is allowed to open its doors again, you will come and take a look in this office at my exhibition in which I show my favourite art, music and memories of 15 years as a mayor.

Ladies and gentlemen, I once again wish you a happy and healthy 2021. Let's hope the tunnel in which we see the light is not too long. Until then, and certainly afterwards, keep a close eye on yourself and others. Because only together can we make a difference.