Christmas is a wonderful and exciting time of year.
It is astonishing to think that my daughter and I arrived here just under four months ago and already Cayman feels like home. This is all due to the hospitality and warmth of the people of the Cayman Islands. I have been inspired, not only by the friendliness of the Caymanian people, but also by your generosity and readiness to help those in need.
It is this strong sense of community which we must focus on to carry us through the New Year. It is the strength of family ties in Cayman which will help to tackle the recent rise in crime which we have all been concerned by. Whilst we value the excellent work of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, we must invest more in our young generation and help those who have lost their way to get back on track.
We have been fortunate to have come through the 2013 hurricane season without disruption. We all, however, think of our Filipino community here in Cayman and the trauma they have suffered as their islands were hit by Typhoon Haiyan on 7th November. This caused mass devastation to the communities who live there, and heartbreaking impact on those who knew them here in Cayman. It is credit to all nationalities resident in the Cayman Islands that we have seen such a generous and compassionate response to this tragic event.
It is this annual threat from hurricanes and climate change which reminds us of the vulnerability of these beautiful islands and their environments.
Overall, for Cayman, 2013 has been a positive year. Our businesses and tourism industries have weathered the world economic downturn and are showing good signs of recovery. A new Government is in place that is focused on continuing to bring prosperity to Cayman and its people.
My hope for the New Year is that 2014 will be even more successful as we work together with Government, businesses and of course the residents of the Cayman Islands to ensure that we all continue to contribute to our community.
Christmas is a time to celebrate successes and friendships, but also to think about those not so fortunate. We must continue to look out for our neighbours, especially those who are sick or elderly, and to speak up for children who are at risk. The holiday season is also a time when we are particularly grateful to those who cannot take time off with their families because they are taking care of all of us, including medical staff, the police and the fire service. These extraordinary people are not concerned with recognition or reward and they deserve to be given credit by all.
As we approach 2014, let us enjoy the spirit of the Christmas season and remember that respect and kindness to others will last all year round.
I wish each and every one of you a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.