"Merry Christmas Gibraltar. Lorraine and I trust that everybody watching, like us, is enjoying the unique spirit and pleasure of a Gibraltarian Christmas with family and friends. I say ‘trust’, rather than ‘hope’, because, typically, I am in no doubt that the People of Gibraltar will have gone out of their way to ensure that everyone, including the sick, deprived and lonely, are able to enjoy some Christmas sparkle and cheery festive companionship on this most precious of days."
"As I reflect on another privileged and enjoyable year as Governor, my thoughts gravitate, as ever, to the power of Gibraltar’s inclusive, respectful and generous multi-faith and multicultural Community. It is something wonderfully reassuring and uplifting to be a part of; and something that must not go unheralded, as I believe it offers an enlightening example of what makes a positive difference to our beautiful yet troubled world – unity.
As the local writer, Mark Sanchez, so astutely pointed out in his talk about ‘Representing Gibraltarianness’ during last month’s Literary Festival it is incumbent on all of us to “immerse ourselves in the daily realities of Gibraltar” and “not allow the outside World to know us only through the prism of their perceptions”.
The source of the power of Gibraltarianness became vividly apparent to me during this year’s National Day Celebrations when we commemorated the brave and inspired Referendum Generation of 1967. In the midst of Casemates, it struck me that Gibraltarianness draws its power from its respected and celebrated heritage. A heritage that is inclusive and reconcilable. A heritage that gives Gibraltar its identity, its belief and its ambition.
Moreover, from your heritage, you, the People of Gibraltar, draw a deep and clear sense of who you are; what made you who you are; and where your future lies. Essentially, unlike many, Gibraltarians do not have to leave the place they are from, to find out who they are. This is important, because anywhere that does not respect and celebrate its heritage, has no future. I believe Gibraltar has a great future, because it is proud of its great heritage.
Over the past year, there have been many times when I have been humbled by the power of Team Gibraltar’s unity of purpose and compassion; however, two stand out. The first was Gibraltar’s extraordinary contribution to the United Kingdom’s response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria which devastated huge swathes of the Caribbean; including three fellow Overseas Territories, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla. Without a moment’s hesitation, once it was known that HMS OCEAN was calling into Gibraltar to take on humanitarian aid supplies and equipment, en route to leading the relief effort in the Caribbean, Gibraltar, as a Community, stood up to help.
From the donation of ten all-terrain vehicles by the Government, to three days of non-stop harbour and airport operations by the Civilian, Military and Police Authorities, to the provision of food and building materials by the Rock’s business community, to the collection of clothes by the 1st/4th Scout Group, everybody did their bit.
Why did Gibraltar do its bit? It did it because Gibraltar knows, through shared experience, that the only way you get through hard times is to stand together. Misfortune may befall everybody; but good fortune favours a Community that thinks of the collective before the individual.
For me, this year’s second compelling manifestation of when Team Gibraltar’s unity of purpose and compassion has created a beacon of example for others to follow, is the manner in which Gibraltar cares for its Mental Health Service Users. Put simply, working together, the combined effort of Gibraltar’s Health Authority, Private Service Providers, and the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Society, has turned Hillsides, Bella Vista and Ocean Views into a truly world-leading campus for caring for those of us with mental health challenges.
There is nothing more vital, decent and admirable than caring for the vulnerable and challenged in one’s Community. It shows that our Community is something real; it is something that can change lives; it is something to be a part of; and it is something to be proud of.
On behalf of us all here in Gibraltar, may I also take this opportunity to wish Her Majesty and the other members of the Royal Family a very Merry Christmas. Especially so, given that The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary this year.
A magnificent milestone for our Sovereign and Her most steadfast Consort; and an inspiring example to us all. To paraphrase Her Majesty’s in her own praise of her husband on Their Golden Wedding 20 years ago “we owe Them both a great debt, greater than they would ever claim, or we shall ever know”.
May I offer our heartfelt best wishes to Prince Harry and his Fiancée, Meghan Markle, as well. We wish them every possible happiness in their future lives together. What a fantastic occasion their Wedding Day on the 19th May is going to be.
As ever, many of you will be working over the holiday period. So, to those of you unable to take a proper break with your loved ones and friends over Christmas and New Year, particularly the Rock’s outstanding Medical, Carer and Law Enforcement Organisations, I offer my deep respect and gratitude for the amazing work you do, so selflessly, for our Community day in, day out. Your readiness and commitment to do so is yet another example of what special people you are.
Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, during this festive season, Lorraine and I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year.
Merry Christmas Gibraltar."