Despite challenges, Gibraltarian resilience shines brightly
This is the text of a Christmas message broadcast by the Governor on Christmas Day.
Christmas is a time to be thankful. We are especially grateful at this time of year that we can be with our families and our friends, enjoying each other’s company.
We can be also be thankful this Christmas that we are emerging as a community from the dreadfulness of the Pandemic. Personally, and I hope not too selfishly, I am especially grateful that I am seeing a Gibraltar that I have not seen since I arrived here over two and a half years ago, celebrating this festive time in a more traditional and buoyant way.
At a time when there are so many difficulties in the world, we might so easily be downbeat and negative. When I look back on the past year, however, I remain optimistic and grateful for the lives we in Gibraltar are lucky enough to enjoy.
Being at Windsor Castle in March to see our Regiment receive its new Colours from the Earl of Wessex, with Queen Elizabeth watching on, was a day I shall never forget. Our Regiment defines Gibraltar’s relationship with the Monarch, and when the soldiers were on parade in London in June, no one could have doubted the ties, which bind Gibraltar and the United Kingdom so firmly together.
The visit by Prince Edward and his wife Sophie in June lit up Gibraltar in so many ways, and I know that the Royal Couple will remember with immense gratitude the way in which they were welcomed here, and the chance they had to see how Gibraltar has been transformed, even since their last visit a decade before.
We mourned the passing of our Great Queen, Elizabeth II, but we can rejoice in having enjoyed the privilege of living during the second great Elizabethan era, during which Elizabeth was our Rock and Stay during some very challenging times, not least during the Pandemic, when her words, “We will meet again” inspired hope the World over.
Likewise, we can be glad that in King Charles we have another Head of State dedicated to duty. He is a man of great compassion, foresight, intelligence and energy, whose work as Prince of Wales leaves us in no doubt that he will be as committed to all his realms and their people as was his mother. His Coronation on 6th May next year will be a great occasion to look forward to, in Gibraltar as well as in the United Kingdom.
Here at home, Gibraltar has faced many challenges, but the resilience of its people has shone brightly. The tunnel fire, which damaged our water supply, was tackled by our firefighters in the most incredible and effective way. In the aftermath of the fire, our emergency and public services worked tirelessly together to ensure the re-supply of water in very short order.
Not long after this awful incident, a damaged bulk carrier had to be grounded off Catalan Bay to stop it sinking. The complexities of the operation to prevent environmental damage were immense, and yet the Port Authorities, working alongside Government, emergency and civil agencies, and with the assistance of some organisations from Spain and elsewhere, ensured that this crisis was handled in an exemplary way.
Over the last year, I have enjoyed greatly the chance to get out, to visit schools, clubs and associations, and to see just how they help develop our young people. I was especially pleased to visit the 1st / 4th Scouts along Wellington Front, and to see the huge range of activities that bring these young people together and to enjoy each other’s company.
And it gave me great pleasure to award both Scouting Gibraltar and Girlguiding Gibraltar my personal Award for Merit, for the work that these organisations do in inspiring our youth.
Most recently, I needed no more reason to be thankful than when I attended GAMPA’s Production of “We Will Rock You”, to see the talent of our young people.
We of course face the continuing economic and social uncertainty as our Government and that in London work together to find a lasting arrangement with the European Union to ensure that our way and quality of life is preserved. I know just how hard our elected representatives, our law officers and other officials are working to make this happen, and how they are working together to make sure that Gibraltar remains and develops as the home we wish it to be. They have my thanks and my admiration.
At a time when many in the World are facing war, famine and environmental catastrophe, we might perhaps reflect on what is good about our own circumstances and, recognising just how lucky we are, make ourselves ready to reach out to those less fortunate in any way we can, whether here in Gibraltar or further away in Ukraine or elsewhere.
Recently I was welcomed into the Line Wall Road Mosque by the Imam and his wife. Earlier in the year, I have been welcomed into our Synagogues, one of our Temples, and of course into the Cathedrals of Gibraltar. While we do not all celebrate Christmas, all religions share in the common faith of humankind being good to one another. At this very special time of year therefore, perhaps by considering just how lucky we are, will encourage us to support those, wherever they may be, that are less fortunate than ourselves.
At a time of year when I continue to be very grateful to all those who will be working over the Festive season, our doctors and nurses, our police our firefighters and so many others, I wish everyone in Gibraltar a wonderful Christmas and a happy and above all a healthy year ahead.