Delivery tip: The more pauses in your farewell speech, the more impact the following sentiments will have.
So if you want some tears in the audience, speak slowly and use the spaces between sentences for a heavy silence.
"I can't tell you how difficult it is to describe how sad I am to be leaving.
When I got here so many years ago, I would never have realised how connected I would be to such a warm community of people.
Many times I have been humbled by the kindness of your hearts.
When I look at this gift/my photos/this scar/[other personal item], I will remember…[memories].
I will wake up in my new life, full of yet-to-be realised
opportunities, and empty of your company... I will be in a strange
You’ve helped me through some difficult times, and shared the joyous times in yours. Some people judge their lives on what they do, others on who they are. I want my life judged on the friends I keep, and how enriched I am from just knowing you.
To out a couple of people:
You might remember a time when I was [name difficulty]. Well I know it might not seem much to people but [Friend A] stepped in to lend a hand. I don't think [Friend A] knows how much that meant to me. I was new to town and didn't feel like I could ask for help. It was a kindness that I now try to return to newcomers.
I also want to mention [Friend B]. Always with a joke and a smile, and no matter what kind of a day I had, I was always welcome to relax and unwind at [Friend B]'s house. It was like a refuge and it's another example of generosity and tolerance that I would like to emulate.
[Continue to mention some friends and their qualities or situations that you are grateful for].
To quote Shakespeare, who is a better word-smith than I am:
"And whether we shall meet again I know not.
Therefore our everlasting farewell take:
For ever, and for ever, farewell, friends!
If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why, then this parting was well made. "
To see you here in front of me, the last time all together, is a picture I will treasure for a very long time.
So... until the next time we gather, my very dear friends, farewell for now."
Planning a special goodbye?