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On land and at sea, rousing applause for Gibraltar’s frontline workers

By Stephen Ignacio and Alice Mascarenhas

Merchant ships anchored in British waters around the Rock joined in blasting their horns last night as Gibraltar once again took to windows and balconies to express gratitude to the health and essential services working to protect this community from the Covid-19 virus.

As has happened nightly for the past week, thousands joined in at 8pm yesterday in a rousing chorus of applause, cheers, song and, on this occasion, foghorns echoing from sea.

“It’s heartwarming and emotional. It’s nice to be recognised and appreciated rather than being taken for granted, which is how we often feel,” said Leslie Bruzon, a paramedic with the Gibraltar Health Authority’s ambulance services.

Earon Balloqui, a police officer at the Royal Gibraltar Police, had one word to describe how he felt on hearing the clapping: “Proud.”

Alex Nuñez, a union representative for GHA workers who also works at St Bernard’s hospital, echoed the sentiment and said the evening cheers were a valuable pick-me-up for healthcare workers.

“It gives us more strength and determination to advocate for these amazing professionals and feeling proud is an understatement,” he said.

“This current situation highlights the importance of the role each individual undertakes more so than ever regardless of their skill set.”

“Heartfelt gratitude towards our community for the relentlessly support in all ways possible with any given opportunity.”

Another police officer, who preferred not to be named, said the supportive claps were welcomed, but that “the real work is yet to come”.

And while the loudest concentration of applause comes from the housing estates, similar gestures are being witnessed around the Rock.

Photo: Johnny Bugeja

In the old town from the area of Cornwall’s Parade, singing and clapping can be heard for a few minutes every night as neighbours  hang out from their windows and balconies – children and parents, and elders all joining in.

From one of the balconies, June Lutkin, sets up her loud speaker blue tooth system every night and tunes into Radio Gibraltar at 8pm so everyone can hear ‘Llevame donde naci’ and sing along. Those who don’t know the words just clap.

June believes it is really important to support our local community in any way we can in the present situation.

“By keeping people's spirits up and having as much interaction as we can, given the circumstances of social distancing, remaining positive and cheerful is one way of beating this biological war we are currently facing,” she says.

“Balcony/window karaoke singing anything at all is great - but singing something meaningful is even better,” she added.

Every night at the end of the song everyone claps for a few moments and in the streets those passing by have joined in or danced along.

Children held up their rainbow drawings from the balconies to show all.

And every night more and more neighbours join in the sing-a-long. On Tuesday the clapping went on and on as many families with young children appreciated the fresh air. 

The moment ended with rainbow paintings from children holding them up from their balconies and shouts of thank you June who nightly leads all in song. 

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