Who was grandma Corry van der Valk-de Wit?
Corry van der Valk, the mother of Stijn, Sjoerd and Derk Langebeek proudly tells us about the life of her own mother, Corry van der Valk-de Wit. Grandma Corry is the link in the connection with Texel. The connection that after many years has resulted in a Van der Valk hotel on Texel. The hotel that Tjomme and Corry worked so hard on together with their sons. Corry still regularly thinks how sad it is that her mother was not able to experience this anymore.
Grandma Corry was born in Zuid-Eierland, on the northern part of Texel. In 1926, she opened her eyes to a world on her parents' large farm called 'De Vooruitgang'. A world where sheep grazed on vast meadows and the family worked hard. She shared this world with three sisters and a younger brother, and together with their parents, they tended the farm that remained in the family for many years.
The days started early and were filled with herding sheep, working the land and taking care of the farm. Every year, spring was marked by lambs and this was passed down from generation to generation over the years, through the so-called pap lambs. Despite the rural setting, grandma Corry went to school in nearby De Cocksdorp. The classroom, a time capsule of her childhood, can still be admired in the so-called 'Island Gallery'. The gallery in the former neighbourhood school is a reminder of the days of crayons and school desks with dreams bigger than the dunes of Texel.
When the war broke out, the De Wit family felt the impact on Texel differently from the mainland. Despite the distance from the mainland, they also housed people in hiding in the house. The family shared their table and their lives with them. One sister of grandma Corry even found love in the most unlikely of circumstances. She married a hider, bringing a piece of the mainland with her to Texel.
While the clouds of war hung over the island, Grandma Corry kept dreaming of the mainland. The longing for a bigger world and exploration grew with age. As much as she loved Texel, it sometimes felt limiting for the girl who dreamed of more than life on the island.
Nico, Grandma Corry's only brother, remained loyal to the island and the family's heritage. He chose to stay on Texel. However, farmhouse 'De Vooruitgang' was sold after many years and is now a residential house. The other family farm, called 'Breda', was still farmed for many years by Nico's son Piet de Wit. Since there is no succession, the farm will eventually change hands.
A piece of the past will always remain on the island that had belonged to the De Wit family for so long. The memories of grandma Corry's childhood will remain with the arrival of 'Van der Valk Texel-de Koog' and the passing of traditions from generation to generation. Similarly, years later, Tjomme and Corry raised their boys with the porcupine lambs in spring.
KLAAS & CORRY
While grandma Corry lived her young life on Texel, she made occasional family visits to the mainland, where she met Klaas van der Valk's brothers. These encounters soon turned into fine friendships. When Klaas went to Texel from Voorschoten one day, his brothers instructed him to send greetings to their friend. When the bell rang in Texel's South Island, her parents were surprised. A young man coming to the door for their daughter? What was this supposed to mean? When she appeared at the door, the spark immediately jumped.
At the time, about 25-year-old Klaas van der Valk worked in 'De Gouden Leeuw' in Voorschoten, owned by his father Martinus. 'De Gouden Leeuw', once a tavern with a playground, had been transformed into a café. Here, people could stop for a cup of coffee on their way to The Hague. The café expanded more and more over the years. You could eventually even get a bite to eat there. The café still exists, but is now a modern Van der Valk hotel.
When the infatuated Grandma Corry joined Klaas across the street, they worked together for a while at 'De Gouden Leeuw'. Grandma Corry immediately turned out to be a true hospitality talent with a passion for hospitality and customer service. In 1956 the moment was there, Klaas and grandma Corry left for De Bilt together with their four children. Here they bought a small tavern along the old thoroughfare to Utrecht. They made this their own place: De Biltsche Hoek. Despite grandma Corry being heavily pregnant at the time, she worked hard to set up the new business. In De Bilt, she gave birth to five more children, including their eighth child; Corry van der Valk. Unfortunately, Klaas died in 1969, this left grandma Corry on her own. Despite the difficult time that followed with caring for nine children and a business, grandma Corry managed to build something wonderful. The hotel-restaurant is still there and now bears the name 'Van der Valk De Bilt-Utrecht'.
Even though her new life was on the mainland, in her heart, grandma Corry always stayed connected to Texel. Annual visits to relatives on the island were passed down from generation to generation. Thus, Tjomme and Corry also passed on this love to their three sons. The family spent annual holidays on Texel, perhaps this is where the seed was sown for dream of a hotel on the island.
Why Texel? That's why!
Corry van der Valk's strong bond with the island was reflected in numerous visits throughout her life, with Tjomme and Corry sharing their love for Texel with their three sons. After successfully opening the family's second hotel, 'Van der Valk Hotel Groningen-Hoogkerk', the great desire to realise another hotel always remained.
After years, a unique opportunity presented itself in 2020: hotel 'De Pelikaan' on Texel came up for sale. This was the moment to come full circle. In early 2021, they immediately started the transformation from a 3-star hotel to a 4-star hotel. A stressful undertaking that coincided exactly with the challenging corona period, so the start-up was not without obstacles. Nevertheless, they managed to establish a beautiful and attractive hotel in De Koog. And the family is not finished yet, as renovation plans are also on the agenda in 2024.
We asked Corry what her mother had thought about the hotel now being on the meaningful island. She responded with emotion: "She would have loved that, it's such a shame she didn't experience that." Corry's siblings also cherish the project. Remarkably, Tjomme's family too has always had a strong bond with Texel, it is a shared love within both sides of the family.
Pride radiates from Corry's words when she talks about Derk and Lisa, who put up something so beautiful there every day. The bond with the island will always remain and is strengthened by the arrival of the hotel. For Corry, Tjomme, Stijn, Sjoerd and Derk, the hotel is more than just a business; it has grown out of a deeply felt attachment to Texel, a legacy of feeling and love that binds the generations together.