"Ladies and gentlemen, We are gathered here today ... to bid farewell to a distinguished individual who leaves an indelible mark on our beloved Gibraltar.

Vice Admiral Sir David Steel KBE DL, His Excellency the Governor, as he has been known for the past four years."

"He is, finally(!), departing from our shores, and it is with mixed emotions that we express our gratitude and bid him farewell."

"Dear David,

So, the time has come to say goodbye.

Hard though it may appear to be at first blush, parting is, I am sure, such sweet sorrow in some ways.

You have served our community with dedication and distinction, and your departure leaves a void that will not easily be filled.

But it is also undoubtedly true that, throughout your tenure, we have faced significant challenges— challenges that tested your mettle and resilience as much as these challenges have tested our mettle too.

The twin spectres of COVID-19 and Brexit loomed large over your time amongst us.

But you have always navigated your role in helping us deal with them with grace and determination.

We started with OPERATION AIR BRIDGE when we kept BA flying to Gibraltar as the only UK air route to Europe.

Then we worked together on the operation to receive our life-saving COVID vaccines.

Few will know how hard you worked, with Ian Cumming and Samantha Sacramento, to ensure that we got everything right on OPERATION JABS TO GIB.

In the end, it was down to the Angel wings of the RAF bringing us the life-saving injections. Given the vaccine could not then be brought to us by sea because of its short shelf life, it was then that you grudgingly accepted that the RAF does have its uses in the modern age.

Then onto OPERATION FORTH BRIDGE for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

And then, far too quickly after that we moved, tragically, to OPERATION LONDON BRIDGE for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.

You and I have had to handle more operations than Sponsored Patients! Then we had the fire in the tunnel and water shortages.

As well as the OS35 running aground and breaking up on our shores. Goodness, I am starting to see a pattern develop here.

How much bad luck could you bring us! In fact, you know I am joking.

Because the reality is that it has been our very, very good luck to have you with us at these difficult moments in our history.

Not least during treaty negotiations and the convening of the ongoing public inquiry, where your legal training has been remarkably helpful.

The reality is that lawyers speak their own language and it is always helpful to have another lawyer to talk to in tense political, professional and personal times.

But, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, I have been less grateful for your mind these last four years than I have been for your heart.

Yours is a big heart that you have opened up to us and to our small but proud nation.

We have faced a lot together in your too short time here.

But we have faced it together.

Because every challenge I faced for Gibraltar or in my personal life, I knew you were four square with me with unwavering commitment.

And beyond the official duties, you have become woven into the fabric of Gibraltar.

Because if it were true, as some fool has suggested in the past twenty-four hours, that the Gibraltarians are an infection of any type, then we are an infection of generosity, hospitality and warmth.

And you came with that infection already flowing freely in your blood and for that reason you found it so easy to become one of us.

It is often said that Governor’s turn native.

You were born native.

You embraced our culture, our generosity, and our hospitability.

And now, I see, you are even being accused of turning socialist!

Goodness, who would have thought that a Governor would ever be accused of being too close to a Chief Minister, when that is one of the things we should always be hoping to see!

It’s part of our respective jobs!

But one thing is for sure: wherever you go next, whatever you do, whoever you support, you will now, always, be ONE OF US.

Because, although your determination has been eponymously steely, your heart has been softer than butter in the levante heat for the Gibraltarians.

This Rock now bears your name etched in this small corner of its history forever. Just as you have etched your way into the hearts of our people.

For that reason, I would summarise that there will, henceforth,

- be a part of Gibraltar that will, forever, be David Steel;

- and a part of David Steel that will, forever, be Gibraltar.

And I know that Gibraltar, too, is now the predominant battle honour etched in your heart.

An honour that I know will mean more than official titles and will be a part of your soul forever.

That’s what Gibraltar does.

It creeps up on you and becomes a part of your very being.

Dear David, I have no doubt that His Majesty will be very proud indeed to have been represented by you in this role.

Like our beloved deceased Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, who appointed you, your dear mother and father would be enormously proud of you.

Because you arrived as a Vice Admiral with an important job to do. And you did it better than well.

But you leave now as a member of our family.

A family that will never let you go.

Fair winds and following seas, dear friend.

May your journey onwards be as remarkable as your time with us.

And remember, Gibraltar will always be your home, and you will FOREVER be ONE OF US.

Thank you, Sir David Steel, for your service, your friendship, and your unwavering commitment to the Rock of the Gibraltarians.

As Cassius said to Brutus as they faced their final battle:

... whether we shall meet again I know not. Therefore our everlasting farewell take For ever, and for ever, farewell,

If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;

If not, why then, this parting was well made.


And, if you DO come back, you won’t need to knock because, on behalf of the People of Gibraltar, I am happy to give you a set of keys to the Fortress.

And don’t be late for the jet on Thursday, for goodness sake!

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