Local speakers took to the stage once again at the fifth annual edition of Gib Talks. The event saw people share their experience and some deeply personal stories at the John Mackintosh Hall during the seven hour event.
Gib Talks returned for another year where people shared their trials and tribulations to a packed audience at the John Mackintosh Hall.
Talks varied from stories of dealing with addiction to how age is just a mindset.
The event was organised by Julian Felice in collaboration with the Gibraltar Cultural Services.
Mr Felice took to the stage to welcome the fifth edition of Gib Talks, added that 86 individuals had graced the stage over those years.
The talks have a combined length of 20 hours of continuous speaking with people aged between 17 and 89 years sharing their stories. He also bid for people to nominate others to take part in Gib Talks for the following year.
Stanley Flower gave an emotive talk about a car accident in Spain his son Mark was involved in some 30 years ago as a passenger.
The talk titled ‘A Parent’s Ordeal’ saw Mr Flower give a description of the events on that fateful day and how both Mark and his friend Richard are very luckily still alive and well.
He described how Mark was in a “serious condition” and the stress the incident had caused all members of his family and Richard’s family.
Steven Walker’s talk was an inspirational success story based on his own life.
Addicted to drugs at the young age of 13 and moving onto much heavier substances in his teenage years and early adulthood, Mr Walker described the difficult road to recovery.
“My name in Steven and I am an addict,” he said in his opening statement to the audience.
He told the audience how he was an insecure child who often wanted to “escape his reality”.
He began running away from school and from a fearful child became an angry child.
At 13 years he was “instantly hooked” on marijuana as it “numbed the pain”. From there he eventually moved on to smoking cocaine and sniffing heroin.
Mr Walker described how he was a “living dead man” who had lost everything and felt like he did “not belong on this world”.
He reached his rock bottom when he tried to end his life by overdose but managed to survive.
“The worst day of my life became the best day of my life.”
After that moment he started his road to recovery at 25 years old.
Now he wants to shed the stigma associated with recovering drug addicts.
Later this year he will be travelling to South Africa to aid a community.
His final message: “Lets help one another grow and love”.
Stuart Byrne – vox pop
The first vox pop speaker was Chairman of the Gibraltar Dyslexia Support Group Stuart Byrne.
Mr Byrne explained that reading and writing are not the only forms of learning and that those with dyslexia can learn in different ways.
He described how people with dyslexia tend to be more curious than average and are likely to have very vivid imaginations.
“Just because someone may struggle with reading, writing, and spelling does not mean they can’t do a job,” he said.
He added that mechanics and cooks can fix a car or prepare a meal and still do a good job despite struggling to write.
On behalf of the Pro-life movement Clare Bensadon was invited to join the Gib Talks line-up.
She described her anguish of miscarrying her first pregnancy and spoke of her young son who was premature having only been seven months in the womb at birth.
In her opinion she felt that women should not consider terminating their pregnancies, giving her reasons for this position.
The Leader of the GSD Keith Azopardi spoke about growing up in Gibraltar and how it has changed over the year.
He described how Facebook should be called the “anti-social network” and there needs to be global regulation on social media.
Mr Azopardi also spoke about housing, attitudes to mental health and the “need for positivity” with Spain.”
He added that Gibraltar is in a time of change and the Rock has a “bright future” ahead of it.
Noemi Jimenez – vox pop
The second vox pop speaker of the day was Noemi Jimenez who shared her story of growing up in a cult.
“I was raised in a cult and I survived,” she said.
She spoke about her lack of free will and how the group thought people outside of their community would subject to eternal damnation during the second coming of Christ.
She decided to leave the cult at 18 years old, having been ostracised by the community for having an intimate relationship with a man.
“They didn’t want to talk to me as I was dirty and they treated me like I was dead when I was still in the cult,” she said.
In an emotional speech she told the audience she “saw no love” in the cult and although she escaped she was not set free.
She was left with the fear, insecurity and anger instilled in her by the group.
After 12 years she now has the courage to stand up and speak up – which is what has ultimately set her free.
Monica Ritchie is known locally for her work in the local theatre scene and at Gib Talks she gave the story of ‘The Girl from North London’.
Ms Ritchie grew up in London where she took part in pantomimes at the London Palladium.
Later in life she befriended two Gibraltarian girls, then meeting her husband and moving to the Rock where she taught at Bayside School.
She spoke about her work in Gibraltar and the many productions she was a part of.
Now she is part of the White Light Theatre Company and will be part of the team staging a play this year based on Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia gave a talk about Brexit and the history of euro-scepticism in Britain.
He described how there is “no magic recipe” to Brexit and his days are now spent travelling across Europe and the UK to meet his various ambassadors and ministers.
Dr Garcia shared a funny story how he was driven to the wrong address to meet with an ambassador where he was greeted by a women in a bathrobe who thought he was there to fix her satellite television.
For him Brexit over the past couple years has resulted in a lot of pressure and stress, has even seen him using the messaging service Whatsapp for some “digital diplomacy” regarding Brexit.
“It is not easy and it will take time but we will get there in the end,” Dr Garcia said.
Pics by Johnny Bugeja