Engelse speech over Naarden en het Donormonument

1 februari 2015

Ook buiten Nederland krijgt het Nationaal Donormonument aandacht.
Een Engelse gids die rondleidingen verzorgt in Knole, een landgoed in Kent Engeland, hield onderstaande speech voor haar collega's.

Naarden

Here at Knole we receive many Dutch visitors during the year. They are interested in historical places in Britain, so I thought it might be nice to turn the tables and tell you about a historical place I visited in the Netherlands: Naarden.

Naarden, about 15 miles east of Amsterdam, is an old town. It was first mentioned in the 9th century AD, at the time of the Vikings. Like so many other places on the continent it was frequently burned down during the many wars that were fought for reasons that don’t make much sense to us anymore. One of those wars was the Eighty Years War of Independence (80 years!), when a Spanish army - Holland was part of the Spanish empire - burned Naarden to the ground. 

Naarden’s present form dates back to the 17th century. The town is famous because of its star-shaped defence systems. It actually looks like a star, with fortifications reinforced by a double line of moats. Have a look at this picture on my iPad. Inside the town, houses are small and white, and there are cobbled streets, a very pretty town hall and a huge church.

Situated in the grounds of the Great Church is the National Donor Monument, “The Climb”, unveiled in 2011. Another picture on my iPad. It is a monument in memory of all the anonymous people who have donated their organs to someone in need: a new heart, a new liver, new kidneys. It depicts a man emerging as it were from the valley of death. In his hands a block of gold which he uses to step up on. Gold, because it symbolises the precious gift he has received from someone else, the gift of life. At the same time the monument is a place where people who have received a new lease of life can thank their donors for the gift given. Also, the family members of donors can find solace here, knowing that a loved one has given a second chance to someone else.

People visiting Naarden often wonder what this statue means. A friend of mine explained it to me, like we at Knole explain things to OUR visitors, things that make us look upon historical sites as more than just a collection of objects from the past. They are also relevant for us TODAY. That is what we, at Knole, have to tell our visitors too, and - of course - not only our DUTCH visitors.

Thank you.