Governor's Easter message
By Nick Pyle, Governor of Gibraltar
As we all know this Easter is, unfortunately, a rather different Easter than others due to the pandemic that is Covid-19, and whilst it is correct that all of our efforts must be on facing its challenges, we should not forget that Passover, Easter and Ramadan are being celebrated this month, though also in a different way than previously.
And it is often our faith, beliefs and values that help us through difficult times - times when we need to draw on our own strength as well as the strength of others.
Easter is normally a time when families and friends come together, though this should not be the case this weekend. But we should and can keep in touch, and it is important we do, just not in person.
Modern technology has opened up ways to do this. Distances have been narrowed, and some of us may have re-connected with long lost relatives and friends. It is only a shame that it has taken a pandemic for this to happen.
We will get through this, and as Her Majesty The Queen said in her address a week ago, “We will be with our friends again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again”.
We all need support to help us through challenge times. Gibraltar’s former Governors sent a letter of support to the people of Gibraltar offering their “heartfelt and steadfast support”. The Prime Minister, who is thankfully recovering from coronavirus, recently wrote to the Chief Minister.
The Prime Minister stressed that Gibraltar would have the full support of the UK Government in the fight against the disease. As an example of this, I am delighted to note, but not surprised, that British Forces Gibraltar, together with the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, have stepped in and helped as only the military are able.
We have recognised the need to put differences aside and support each other. Neighbours who perhaps previously did not get on now do so. China is helping Italy. Russia is helping the US. Cuba is helping Barbados.
This is what we have done throughout history. During World War II, Lieutenant General Dwight Eisenhower commanded Operation Torch from Gibraltar, becoming the first non-British Officer to command Gibraltar for 238 years. Indeed, I am making this address from the Eisenhower room in the Convent, which formed part of his living quarters.
And the UK is helping Gibraltar as it always has and always will. Relationships are often tested during difficult times. Strong relationships, like that between the UK and Gibraltar, survive the test.
We now realise more than before what is really important. We know what we have taken for granted and perhaps should not have. We know what really matters – family, friends and faith.
In facing a crisis, we need to adapt and embrace the need to change. Three weeks ago, places of worship were open, work was done in the shop, the garage or in the office.
Now, religious services are being streamed and for many, working at home is a way of life.
Pandemics are not new and this one is still in its early stages. It is therefore difficult to predict when it will end and when life can return to normal. Let us hope we return to a better, more caring normal.
Gibraltar however can be proud of how it has responded to the crisis, and in particular the work of the GHA, the RGP and the many volunteers who are looking after the elderly and vulnerable in our society.
This work is rightly recognised at eight o’clock each evening when we stop what we are doing and applaud those who are keeping us safe. At the same time, we should not forget those who are keeping Gibraltar running by continuing to provide essential services.
In times of adversity, communities come together and often emerge stronger. I have no doubt that will be the case for Gibraltar.
In times of adversity, people stand up to support each other. Gibraltar has done this as magnificently as it always has. But it is important that we look after everyone, particularly the vulnerable and those who may be alone.
It is vital that we leave no one behind.
In times of adversity, we need to follow the rules, not just for our own protection but for the protection of others.
As the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab recently said, “After all the efforts everyone has made, let’s not ruin it now. So please, stay home this bank holiday weekend.”
Ros and I wish you all a Happy and Safe Easter, but please, follow the rules, stay at home and help save lives, including yours.