by Lieutenant General Edward Davis, the Governor of Gibraltar
As Lorraine and I approach the end of our first year on the Rock, may I first, take this opportunity to say how deeply humbled, and forever grateful, we are for the Gibraltarian People’s embracing friendship, and your generosity of spirit and deed, from the moment we stepped ashore in January.
Before I took over as Governor, Lorraine and I were led to believe by our predecessors, that “to know the people of Gibraltar, is to deeply admire, respect and enjoy them”. Now we are sure of it. Thank you, Gibraltar, for making us both feel so at home.
2016 has been a momentous year. During it, we witnessed two unprecedented events: the national celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th Birthday and the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union.
Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday was an astonishing milestone in Her unsurpassed service as Queen to the British and Commonwealth People. A milestone that stands proud as vivid testament to Her governing mindset that leadership is all about duty and putting others first by example, with consistency and sacrifice.
And having voted to leave the European Union, the Referendum result heralded the immensely complex challenge of renegotiating the United Kingdom’s, and thus Gibraltar’s, mutually-beneficial partnership with both European and non-European States.
This year, the World also continued to endure terrible tragedies. To name but a few: the war in Syria; the shocking statistic that in 2016 over 7000 migrants have died trying to reach a better life – mainly from drowning in the Mediterranean; and, thirdly, the growing list of barbaric attacks by violent extremist terrorists.
As the Gibraltarian teenager, Anna Grech, wrote in a letter to her 45-year-old self – a letter which was ranked in the top 13 of 980,000 entries in the Universal Postal Union’s International Letter Writing competition “humans have yet again failed to realise that what we do has consequences for people. What we do affects their lives in ways we cannot even imagine”. Along with Anna, let us all hope and pray that in 2017 we see a World with much less fear and suffering.
I have lived in, and visited, many places around the world; but, as I reflect on my first year as Governor, never have I witnessed such unity between the different races, faiths, sectors, neighbourhoods and generations that make up the multi-cultural Gibraltarian Community.
A unity that is built on the mindset that inclusive, respectful and mutually-supporting coexistence matters. A unity that makes Gibraltar a safe and happy place to live. A unity that has raised over £1m for the Calpe House Trust Fund. Gibraltarian generosity is inspiring. A unity that gives Gibraltar the empathy to understand the interconnected nature of individual and collective human well-being. A unity that gives Gibraltarians a global perspective and international influence. And a unity that, to my mind, will be as vital to Gibraltar’s future as it has been to its past.
Throughout my year in Gibraltar, I have also been hugely inspired by the ambition, innovation and boldness of the Gibraltarian People. Attributes which, over the centuries, have enabled Gibraltar to prosper far beyond the bounds of its relative physical size and economic weight.
Attributes which, over the last 12 months, have seen: Gibraltar become a member of FIFA; six teenagers from Bayside School win the UK-wide CyberCenturion competition; four Gibraltarian Fire and Rescue Officers win a silver medal in the World Firefighter Combat Challenge; the Gibraltar National Dance Team come home with multiple top-10 rankings in a field of 26 countries; and, most recently, attributes which saw Mark Randall complete a 7000km journey from Gibraltar to Jerusalem for charity. Manifestly, Gibraltar achieves well beyond probability by believing in possibility.
So, while there may be challenges ahead in 2017 for Global Gibraltar – as there have always been – I have no doubt that the unity of the multi-cultural Gibraltarian Community, combined with the winning power of your ambition, innovation and boldness, will overcome these challenges, and in doing so, assure the future spirit, prosperity and reputation of Gibraltar.
In 2017, I am confident that our Smart Rock will remain a dynamic and resolute beacon of harmony, optimism and ideas. And I have no doubt Her Majesty will be as proud of Gibraltar in 2017, as She is in 2016. Gibraltar will be Gibraltar.
I know that many of you are working over the holiday period. So, to those of you who are not able to take a break over Christmas and the New Year, I would like to offer you a special thank-you. I am also particularly grateful to our selfless and dedicated law enforcement, emergency, military, care and charitable services and organisations that do so much to protect and sustain our Community, not just at Christmas but throughout the year. We owe you everything.
Wherever and whatever you are doing during this festive season, Lorraine and I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a healthy and successful New Year.