Wednesday, 30th January 2013
Gibraltar launches special welcome to British armed services visitors
by Eyleen Sheil
HEROES WELCOME LAUNCHED IN GIBRALTAR From left Minister for Tourism Neil Costa, Commander British Forces John Clink, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, John Senior and Mayor Anthony Lima at the launch of ‘Heroes Welcome’ in the Mayor’s Parlour at City Hall.
The ‘Heroes Welcome’ campaign was launched in Gibraltar by the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, Commander British Forces (CBF) John Clink, John Senior who launched the scheme in the UK, Minister for Tourism Neil Costa and the Mayor Anthony Lima, at City Hall yesterday.
The scheme is not a discount scheme and instead via the use of a sticker any business or entity can display that they welcome as our heroes the men and women of the armed forces, here in Gibraltar as well as in the UK and Scotland.
The man responsible for launching the scheme in the UK John Senior spoke at the launch yesterday and reflected that in 1949 Gibraltar actually launched its own Heroes Welcome when the crew of HMS Amethyst arrived here. He jokingly adds that he has joined our scheme and not the other way around.
Mr Senior advised that the scheme started as a result of some members of the armed forces having issues gaining entry into some bars and restaurants or not being allowed to stay in some hotels. A sticker in the window indicated that the armed forces are welcome, leaving no soldier feeling embarrassed or unwelcome if rejected.
Speaking at the launch Commodore Clink said that he is “absolutely delighted” that Gibraltar is embracing the project and that it reflects what he thinks is a 309 year intertwining of the military with Gibraltar.
“This event signals something I saw when I arrived in Gibraltar a couple of months ago. I went to pay my first call on the Chief Minister and I went into No. 6 and there in front of me was the ‘Heroes Welcome’ banner, and I thought before I have even met the Chief Minister “great, here is someone I can do business with,” he adds.
He also said that he is not surprised that Gibraltar was launching this scheme because it reflects that very close relationship with the people and the military which he feels is unique across wide parts of the world to the UK armed forces, but in particular in Gibraltar.
“I am extremely grateful to you, to the people who have served in the armed forces, be they from the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Army, the Royal Gibraltar Regiment in particular and the Royal Air Force, so thank you very much indeed for promoting and supporting this project and we look forward to seeing it evolve in the weeks ahead,” said the CBF.
Supported by the Minister for Tourism Neil Costa, the Chief Minister said: ‘The relationship between the Armed Services and the people of Gibraltar has been inextricably close for over 300 years.” In addition he said he does not know of any other place currently or in history where civilians and the military have lived so closely.
“I welcome the ‘Heroes Welcome’ scheme and I look forward to seeing the scheme’s stickers in shop windows and a special welcome being given to Servicemen in our shops, bars and taxis,” he adds.
The reception was held in the Mayor’s Parlour in City Hall, and opening the launch the Mayor said: “It is most fitting that their valuable contribution in defence of a free world is recognised and fully appreciated by us in Gibraltar who greatly value our links with the United Kingdom.”
“What better way to do so than ensuring that service personnel both serving and retired receive a true Heroes Welcome. Perhaps I should add a true Gibraltarian welcome. I wish you and the scheme every success,” he adds.
Local establishments are encouraged to support the scheme by offering a warm welcome to serving or former personnel and by displaying stickers in their windows.