Albert Mena appointed CBE in King Charles III’s first Birthday Honours list
By Eyleen Gomez and Brian Reyes
Albert Mena, the former Financial Secretary, has been appointed by King Charles III to be a Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the Government of Gibraltar.
Mr Mena topped the list of Gibraltarians in the first King’s Birthday Honours in the reign of Charles III.
He was Financial Secretary for eight years from September 2014 to September 2022, playing a key role in complex discussions on Gibraltar’s post-Brexit future.
He was central too in preparing this community’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Mena told the Chronicle he was “deeply humbled and honoured” to accept the CBE.
“It has been a real privilege to have been called upon to serve this community in any way I can,” he told the Chronicle.
“That in itself has been extremely fulfilling and rewarding.”
“It is a recognition also to those countless individuals whom I have worked closely with and who have throughout my journey in life provided me with invaluable guidance and advice.”
Mr Mena said Brexit and Covid-19 had dominated much of his time in the post of Financial Secretary.
“These are clearly the largest challenges but there have been so many during my time as Financial Secretary,” he added.
“I remain available to serve this community in any way I can.”
“This has only possible because of the wholesome support of my loving wife and family.”
He reflected too on the core values instilled in him by his parents, “…to whom I owe so very much and who would have been immensely proud.”
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo congratulated all the recipients of awards in this year’s King’s Birthday Honours list, but highlighted in particular “my dear friend and colleague Albert Mena CBE”.
“The award to him of the CBE reflects the huge effort Albert made to serve our people to the very best of his great ability in all the time he was employed as Financial Secretary,” Mr Picardo said.
“His achievements, in particular in the design and execution of the BEAT schemes during the pandemic, stand on their own.”
“But the fact is that Albert went above and beyond the call of ordinary duty in everything that he did as Financial Secretary, as he does in life generally, as an incredible over-achiever of the sort that puts us all to shame, both in effort and in attainment.”
“The recognition by His Majesty of this extraordinary Gibraltarian is therefore more than fitting and I am sure that I am speaking for all of the good People of Gibraltar when I congratulate Albert and thank him for his service and his continued support and commitment to Gibraltar and the rightful cause of its people.”
A number of other honours were also announced on Friday for members of this community.
Gail Nicole Carreras, a retired Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist at the GHA, was appointed to be a Member of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the Disabled Community in Gibraltar.
“I'm obviously totally, totally overwhelmed by it,” she told the Chronicle.
“It was a shock when I received the phone call and the information and it's still hard to process, but I actually feel very, very privileged and very honoured.”
“It's an amazing honour to achieve.”
“I've been very fortunate all my working life.”
“The people I've worked with have all been amazing people.”
“I've been lucky that there's other people that have worked with me that also certainly deserve the same award.”
“I'm very grateful for the people that have taken the time to do the nomination.”
“I really appreciate the time and effort but I don't know who's nominating me.”
“It’s very kind of the people that have done that. And I really do want to thank them and appreciate what they've done.”
Dr Keith Leonard Farrell, vice-Chairman and former Chairman of the Gibraltar Heritage Trust, was also appointed to be a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the Protection and Preservation of Gibraltar’s Heritage.
“It's an immense privilege really, and a feeling of achievement,” he said of the award.
“Particularly with regards to the nearly 13 years of continuous involvement with the Heritage Trust and I try my best to highlight the issues that need mentioning.”
“I was contacted by The Convent, and His Excellency invited me to have a cup of coffee and a chat and during that chat he showed me the envelope from Buckingham Palace.”
“I knew that my name had been proposed by other people in Gibraltar and I was hoping that some recognition might be showing, in some form or other, but I certainly didn't expect an MBE.”
“I will continue to write in the Chronicle opinion pieces and letters, because all these things need to be said, so not only the easier bits, but also the more difficult ones.”
“And I think the fact that, if you’re recognised, it gives you a sense that there is that respect out there for what I have to say and that people take it seriously and it's not just frivolous comments.”
“And I hope I'm always as fair as possible, but also at the same time pointing out the things which I believe are relevant and important to do.”
Mrs Suzanne Romero, Clinical Nurse Manager at the Primary Care Centre, received the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to Health in Gibraltar.
“Obviously, it's an honour, it's a privilege to be recommended for such a prestigious award,” she said.
“I believe the award is representing the profession, it represents nurses who, in the past, worked very hard and never had the chance to be commended.”
Mrs Romero added: “This award is not for me, but for everybody.”
“I have always been passionate about my role, completely passionate.”
“It has been my life to be a nurse. I want to serve the community to the best of my ability.”
Two officers of the Royal Gibraltar Police also received honours in this year’s birthday list.
Assistant Commissioner Cathal Yeats and Inspector Alex Enriles received the Overseas Territory Police Medal (OTPM) for services to Policing in Gibraltar.
“I am immensely grateful to have been recognised in this way,” Mr Yeats said.
“I owe this award to my wife and family for their support, and all those colleagues in the RGP who have equally supported and worked with me to help keep Gibraltar safe over the years.”
Mr Enriles added: “I am honoured and humbled to receive this award, which I could not have achieved without the support of my wife, family and colleagues.”
“I will continue to serve Gibraltar and the RGP with pride and dedication.”
On behalf of the Gibraltar Honours Board, the Governor, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, also granted the Gibraltar Award to Professor Ian Roy Cumming, for services to the Health Service in Gibraltar, and to Gaynor Claire Vatvani for services to Children with Communication Needs in Gibraltar