The Malta Independent 26 January 2022, Wednesday

AFM’s Air Wing, Joanne Cassar, Astrid Vella among Republic Day honour recipients

Malta Independent Friday, 13 December 2013, 12:05 Last update: about 9 years ago

The Armed Forces of Malta Air Wing, transgender hairdresser Joanne Cassar and environmentalist Astrid Vella were among this year’s Gieh ir Repubblika recipients.

A number of AFM officers, and members of the Missione Italiana di Collaborazione nel Campo della Difesa  (MICCD) involved in the rescue of migrants shipwrecked in the Maltese search and rescue region were awarded the Distinguished Service Medal while former Speaker of the House and politician Michael Frendo, the Junior Eurovision winning team, and the controversial author of 'Li tkisser sewwi' and last but not least Prof Edwin Grech, whose daughter was a victim of a parcel bomb intended for him back in 1977 when he served as a medical professor at St Luke’s Hospital, were also included in this year’s list of awards and honours.

The list of the individuals or groups awarded the honour is as follows:



Paul Xuereb was a politician, a journalist, a well-established novelist, and a short story writer. He was born in Rabat, Malta, on 21 July 1923, the son of Adeodato Xuereb, a teacher and playwright, and Maria Dolores Busuttil.

He attended elementary school at Mdina, and later had secondary school at St Aloysius College Birkirkara, and at the Flores College, Valletta. Between 1946 and 1949, he studied at City Literary Institute and at Regent Street Polytechnic, both institutes of the University of London, where he read journalism, political economy and political science.

During the Second World War, he served as an anti-aircraft gunner, with the Royal Malta Artillery.

Between 1944 and 1946, he worked as a clerk at the then British Imperial Dockyard. During this period, he was awarded the Africa Star, the War Medal and the Victory Medal. In 1946, he migrated to England, where he pursued further studies. In 1958, he joined the Department of Education as a visiting Master at the Lyceum.

In 1959, he joined the Freedom Press as Literary Editor and Assistant Editor of the Voice of Malta.

In 1962, he contested the general election and was elected as Member of Parliament. He was reelected in the elections of 1966, 1971, 1976 and 1981.

In 1971, he served as Parliamentary Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister, and as Minister of Trade, Industry, Agriculture and Tourism. He served as Speaker of the House of Representatives

between July 1986 and February 1987, and Acting President of Malta from February 1987 to April 1989. Mr Xuereb was married to Edwidge Muscat and had a daughter Maria.

Malta is honouring Paul Xuereb for his exceptional contribution towards the political development Malta and the common good of the Maltese people.




Michael Frendo was born in Floriana in 1955. In 1977, he graduated as a lawyer from the University of Malta and pursued further studies in European Law at the University of Exeter (1978- 1979). He was Director, Press and Media of the Nationalist Party and Editorial Director at Independence Press (1981-1985).

He was elected to Parliament in 1987 where he served for a period of 26 years until 2013. In this period, he held various parliamentary positions, including First Vice-President of the Joint Parliamentary Committee between the Maltese and European Parliaments, Chairman of the Maltese Parliamentary Delegation to the European Parliament, Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Chairman of the Foreign and European Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives of Malta. In 2002 and 2003, he served as member of the European Convention on the Future of Europe as a representative of the Parliament of Malta.

He served as Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Culture and Consumer Protection (1990-1992), Minister for Youth and Arts (1992-1994), Minister for Transport, Communications and Technology (1994-1996) where in 1995, he served as President of Eurocontrol, and Minister of Foreign Affairs (2004-2008).

From April 2010 to April 2013, he served as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Malta is honouring Michael Frendo in recognition of his exceptional contribution towards the political development of Malta and the welfare of the Maltese people.



Edwin S Grech studied at St Aloysius College and at the University of Malta, from where he graduated as a pharmacist in 1952, and a medical doctor in 1955. He specialised in the United Kingdom becoming member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1963 and being elected Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1973.

In 1964, he was appointed a lecturer and Consultant at the Makerere University Hospital in Uganda. While in Uganda, he obtained a Master’s Degree in Surgery in 1972. In 1973, he was

appointed Professor and Head of Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology in Lusaka, Zambia.

In 1977, Professor Grech returned to Malta and was appointed Professor and Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St Luke’s Hospital and the University of Malta, which posts he held until 1987. Besides his contribution to the service of patients, in the Medical School, he introduced new theoretical and clinical methods of teaching and was instrumental in getting all clinical departments recognised by foreign universities and medical councils.

Shortly after his return to Malta in 1977, while rendering service in Maltese hospitals, Professor Grech suffered the loss of his daughter Karin, who was victim of an explosion caused by a letter bomb addressed to her father at his home.

He served as Dean to the Faculty Board of Medicine and Surgery for ten years and member of the Senate and Council of the University of Malta (1979-1987). He retired from government service in 1991.He also served as consultant and advisor in maternal and child health for World Health Organization (WHO) and as Director for the WHO Collaborative Centre for Clinical Research in Human Reproduction.

In 1992, Professor Grech was elected to Parliament for the Malta Labour Party. He served as Minister for Social Welfare (1996-1998).

Malta is honouring Edwin Grech in recognition of his exceptional contribution towards the wellbeing of the Maltese and other peoples, notably, through his dedication in the provision of medical care of the sick, and the political development of Malta.




Victor Grech was born in Cospicua in 1929. He graduated at the Royal University of Malta and after his priestly ordination, he served as Vice-Rector and Rector of the Seminary and as National Director of Vocations. He was awarded a British Council Visitorship and was also a Visiting Lecturer at the Faculty of Theology, and Lecturer of religious and social topics at the Mater Admirabilis Teachers’ Training College. He founded the first Maltese priest-community in Brazil and collaborated with Monsignor Delleport in the foundation of the European Seminary in Maastricht.

In 1977, Monsignor Grech was appointed Archbishop’s Delegate for Church Social and Charitable Action, and Director of Caritas Malta. He introduced professional social services in Church institutions, and founded the Caritas Agency and the community of trained volunteers to support those services.

In 1984, Mgr Grech founded the Caritas Drug Prevention Project and the Drug Rehabilitation Project in 1985, founded the first Therapeutic Community for drug abusers in Malta, becoming Founder-Chairman of the Caritas Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers. In 1968, Mgr

Grech was nominated Chaplain to Pope Paul VI, and in 1981 appointed Honorary Prelate to Pope John Paul II. In 1991, he was installed Canon of the Cathedral Chapter.

For 50 long years, he was widely known for his radio programmes on social subjects, on youths and family. In 1993, as a result of his sterling work in the social and charitable field, Mgr Grech was nominated Member of the National Order of Merit of the Republic of Malta.

Malta is again honouring Monsignor Victor Grech in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the common good of the people of Malta, notably through several years of service heading Caritas Malta with dedication and commitment to people in difficulty.




Paul Asciak was born in Valletta in 1923. He was educated at St Paul’s School in Valletta and at the Seminary. Asciak’s operatic debut was as Turiddu in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana in 1946.

His Italian debut took place in 1950 when he sang Manrico in Verdi’s Il Trovatore at Catanzaro’s Politeama Italia. Following participation in concerts with world-famous singers Tito Schipa and Maria Caniglia, Asciak was encouraged to pursue his studies. In March 1950, Caniglia’s initiative led to Asciak’s being entrusted to renowned teacher Alberto Paoletti of Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera.

In 1951, he won the Concorso per Giovani Cantanti Lirici together with, among others, Franco Corelli, Anita Cerquetti and Gabriella Tucci. He was granted a bursary for voice training under the guidance of Giuseppe Bertelli, Luigi Ricci and Riccardo Picozzi at the Teatro dell’Opera, Rome. In 1951, Paul Asciak performed in Italy in the leading roles of various operas.

In 1952, he joined the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London, as tenor soloist. Up to 1958, he had appeared over fifty times in various roles among them as Flavio in Norma with soprano Maria Callas. He sang with the Welsh National Opera Company, the Dublin Grand Opera and the Carl Rosa Opera Company. He performed several times on BBC sound and vision as well as on ITV

(1952-59) and had several other leading roles in the UK. Asciak gave numerous concerts and recitals, including Verdi’s Requiem, mainly in Wales. In Malta, he sang Ernani in Ernani, Manrico in Il Trovatore, Radames in Aida, Otello in Verdi’s Otello, Don Jose’ in Carmen and Canio in Pagliacci.

In 1961, Asciak retired from stage performances and joined the Department of Education. In 1984, he retired as Head of the Department of Music. In 1994, Asciak was awarded the Midalja ghall-Qadi tar-Repubblika. Asciak lent his vast experience to a number of young Maltese singers by teaching them vocal technique and interpretation, foremost among them the world-renowned tenor Joseph Calleja.

Malta is again honouring Paul Asciak in recognition of his exceptional contribution towards Maltese arts and culture.



Mary Carmen Bellamy was born in 1948, in Victoria, Gozo.

In 2006, Mrs Bellamy established the Gozo CCU Foundation to raise funds in order to procure specialised modern equipment for the Gozo General Hospital. Since its inception, the Gozo CCU Foundation has contributed towards the refurbishment of the Cardiac Care Unit/Intensive Therapy Unit (CCU/ITU) Ward. This Ward is now fully equipped with state-of-the art equipment. The Gozo CCU Foundation has also financed the in-house training of para-medical staff manning the wards and operating the life-saving equipment.

The Gozo CCU Foundation also donated life-saving equipment to the Accident and Emergency Department of the Gozo General Hospital and has now embarked on a fund-raising campaign to assist in the complete refurbishment of the Resuscitation Room in the Accident and Emergency Department of the Gozo General Hospital.

She runs the Foundation on a voluntary basis and gratuitously. Through her leadership of the Foundation, Mrs Bellamy has had a positive impact on the healthcare services in Gozo.

She was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to Gozo.

Malta is honouring Mary Carmen Bellamy in recognition of her exceptional contribution towards welfare of the people of Malta, notably, health care services in Gozo.



Lawrence Dimech was born in 1936, in Hamrun. He migrated to Australia in 1954 but returned to Malta in 1962 and worked for the Malta Allied Newspapers as sub-editor with Il-Berqa. He also served as sports editor with Lehen il-Malti and editor of Malta News. He is considered as a pioneer of Maltese print journalism in Australia. He founded the Maltese Herald which he also edited until 1971. He is the representative in Australia for the Institute of Maltese Journalists.

He was Malta’s representative in New South Wales, Australia, first as Migration Attaché (1971- 1977) and Consul General (1997-2000).

He was appointed by the Australian Federal Government as Director-Coordinator of the first Migrant Resource Centre in Australia and also served as Executive Officer of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (1977-1985). He served on various committees, advising governments on settlement issues and ethnic affairs (1985 – 1992).

He is one of the founders and life member of Melita Eagles Soccer Club where he served both as Secretary and President. He served as President of the Maltese Community Council of New South Wales.

He was awarded the Manoel Vilhena Award (1996), the Premju Kulturali by the Maltese Cultural Association of New South Wales for outstanding contribution to the Maltese and Australian media (1997), and a Special Merit Award by the NSW Football Federation for outstanding contribution to soccer (1998). In 2003, he was awarded ‘The Order of Australia’ for his long-standing contribution to the Maltese community in New South Wales since 1956.

He is the author of a research study “The Ageing Maltese – a minefield of need and neglect” (1992), and editor of The Maltese Resource Dictionary and published two sell-out books “Telqu ghal ghonq it-triq” about Maltese settlement in Australia.

Malta is honouring Lawrence Dimech in recognition of his exceptional contribution towards the welfare of the people of Malta, and in particular, Maltese migrants in Australia.



Born in 1937 at sabbar, Analu Psaila received his education at the Lyceum and the Royal University of Malta from where he graduated as medical doctor in 1961. Subsequently, he travelled to the United Kingdom to specialise in medicine qualifying DH (1964) and MRCP (1969).

He was elected as Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1984, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1997 and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Glasgow.

In 1978, he was appointed Consultant at St Luke’s Hospital, Malta and Deputy Director of the Department of Medicine and Professor of Medicine at the University of Malta. He is a paediatrician, clinical cardiologist and internist. He regularly attends international and European meetings on cardiology and general medicine. He is a member of the European Society of Cardiology.

He is active in public health education, contributing significantly to programmes on the local media. He is also actively involved in sports, particularly football and tennis. He has also served as President of the World Medical Society (1993-95). He is the founder of the Medical Tennis Association (Malta).

Malta is honouring Analu Psaila in recognition of his exceptional contribution towards medical science and health care in Malta, including education to the general through the media.



Lawrence V Zrinzo was born at Hamrun in 1945. He graduated as a medical doctor from the Royal University of Malta in 1969, was awarded the Griffiths Prize in Anatomy and a scholarship by the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Specialising in neurology and neurosurgery at the university hospitals of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Leeds and Manchester, he became the first Maltese neurosurgeon.

He returned to Malta in 1982 as Consultant Neurosurgeon with the mandate to establish a neurosurgical service at St Luke’s Hospital; the number of patients referred abroad soon began to diminish. A neurosurgical unit was inaugurated in June 1983.

The installation of a CT-scanner in December 1983 and an operating microscope in March 1985 respectively heralded the first resection of a brain tumour and the first micro-neurosurgical operation in Malta. In June 1987, an angiosuite made possible surgical intervention on cerebral aneurysms and vascular malformations.

A visit to neurosurgical centres in Berlin and Erlangen-Nürnberg sponsored by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst resulted in Maltese doctors being given the opportunity to specialise in neurosurgery in Germany. A visit to the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh led to St Luke’s Hospital being recognised as a surgical training centre by the College.

In 1997, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Neuro-anatomy at the University of Malta. Contacts with University College London progressed to joint research publications on brain anatomy and surgical techniques in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

He is a Senior Member, Society of British Neurological Surgeons, Fellow Royal College of

Physicians (London) and Fellow Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh).

Malta is honouring Lawrence V Zrinzo in recognition of his exceptional contribution towards medical science and health care in Malta.




The Air Wing is the aerial branch of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM). Its primary role is to maintain the territorial integrity of the Maltese Islands. This is achieved by providing:

• Maritime surveillance,

• Search and rescue on land and at sea,

• Medical and casualty evacuation,

• Aerial reconnaissance,

• Security escort, and

• Transportation of troops.

The personnel of the Air Wing AFM are always ready to deploy on a 24/7 basis as instructed by the AFM’s Rescue Coordination Centre. In fulfilling its tasks, the Air Wing AFM is assisted by the Italian Military Mission.

Malta is honouring the Air Wing of the Armed Forces of Malta in recognition of its distinguished contribution towards the safety of life at sea, humanitarian assistance accorded to people in distress and welfare of the people of Malta.



Born in Vittoriosa in 1930, Lino Bugeja studied at the Lyceum and the Malta College of Education from where he qualified as a teacher in 1949. He furthered his studies at the Edinburgh College in Scotland (1960-61) and at the University of London (1965-66). He holds an Associateship of the Institute of Education from the University of London. He held several positions in the Department of Education. He was a lecturer with the Faculty of Education of the University of Malta.

He was a fine athlete and a national champion in medium distances. In 1951, he represented Malta in the Mediterranean Games in Alexandria, Egypt, where he broke the National 400 metres record of 52.8 seconds.

In 1972, Lino Bugeja helped Fr Hilary Taghliaferro in the setting up of the Education Sports Centre. During the period 1972-1980, he was Secretary General of the Malta Olympic Committeeand in 1985 became the first director of the Malta Olympic Academy. Between 1988 and 1993, he was selected by the International Olympic Committee as an expert to lecture on the History of Sport. In 2003, he was decorated with the Croce dell’Ordine al Merito Melitense by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. In 2004, he won the 2003 Journalism Award for Sports Journalism. In 2008, he was inducted into the Malta Olympic Committee’s Hall of Fame.

In 2005, Lino Bugeja founded the Ramblers Association of Malta.

He has published books and several papers in academic journals. He still contributes articles in local newspapers on Malta’s historical and artistic heritage.

Malta is honouring Lino Bugeja in recognition of his distinguished service towards the welfare of the people of Malta, notably, education, culture, sports and the protection of the environment.



Mark Camilleri was born and lived in Marsascala. He studied history at the University of Malta.

He aspires to earn a doctorate degree in philosophy.

He was brought before the Court accused of publishing and distributing immoral literature when he published a fictitious story of Alex Vella Gera entitled “Li tkisser Sewwi” in a university journal.

Following this event, he established the Front Kontra c-Censura, a national movement that brought together political movements and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This Front sought to

put pressure on Government and other political parties to remove censorship from our country. To date, this movement has achieved its objective as the censorship legislation are no longer being enforced with regard to art, though these are being gradually amended.

He is the author of two academic books. As a historian, he specialises in the history of Malta’s economic and political development during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Malta is honouring Mark Camilleri in recognition of his contribution towards the development of art and literature in Malta.



In February 2007, the Court upheld a challenge against a decision of the Marriage Registrar not to publish the marriage bans of Ms Joanne Cassar on the ground that her female sex was acquired through an operation and not at birth. The Court, therefore, ordered that the bans should be

published. The Government successfully challenged that decision in the First Hall of the Civil Court and in the Court of Appeal which held that the female sex which had been included in a court-ordered change in Ms Cassar’s birth certificate was only intended to protect the right to privacy of the individual but did not give rise to a right to marry a person of the male sex. Ms Cassar took her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Last April, the present Government and Ms Cassar reached an out-of-court settlement as a result of which proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights ended. Subsequently, the right of persons to marry a person of the sex opposite to their acquired sex was legislated into the Marriage Act. This is an important development in our country towards which Ms Cassar contributed through her determination and perseverance.

Malta is honouring Joanne Cassar in recognition of her distinguished service towards a fairer society and the common good of the people of Malta.



Born in Floriana on 3rd January 1935, Lino Cassar studied at the Lyceum. He was editor of ISsmien (1967-71) and of Ix-Xewka a politico-satirical paper published weekly (1965-78) - and at times more frequently. He was manager of the Freedom Press at a time when it and its publications were under excommunication. It is precisely in the field of political satire that Lino Cassar contributed greatly. He carried on the tradition of politico-satirical journalism that Gino Muscat Azzopardi, Cassar’s closest friend, and others before him kept alive for so many years.

Cassar was chairman of the Board of Film and Stage Censors (1972-87) and Head, Cinema Films at Xandir Malta (1975-83). In the eighties, he was the managing director of the Mediterranean Film Studios. He contributed several film features to various newspapers. In 2007, Cassar was awarded the Gold Award at the 17th edition of the Malta Journalism Award. He died on 8th November 2012.

Malta is honouring Lino Cassar in recognition of his distinguished service towards Maltese society through journalism.



On Saturday, 30th November 2013, Gaia Cauchi, a young Maltese singer, won the Junior Eurovision 2013, a European competition for young singers, held in Kiev, Ukraine. This is Malta’s first success in a prestigious European song competition and the first within EBU organised competition.

At this competition, Gaia Cauchi interpreted the song entitled The Start, which she penned together with Matthew Mercieca and Elton Zarb. The young girl Gaia Cauchi is helped by her teacher of singing, Gillian Attard.

As a singer, Gaia Cauchi has already achieved other successes, amongst these, are last year’s victory of San Remo Junior in Italy and her successful participation in a TV programme on RAI Ti lascio una canzone.

Malta is honouring the Winning Team of the Junior Eurovision 2013 in recognition of their success and for honouring their country and the Maltese people.



Born in Cospicua, in 1940, coming from a boat building family line, Charles Pulè studied at the De La Salle College, the Dockyard School Malta and Chatham, the Medway College of Technology and the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and a Doctorate Degree in Engineering.

In the 1950s, he was engaged with the Royal Navy working on radar, sonar and armament control and message coding systems. In 1960, he won the Gledson Prize for his research on switched filtered theory. In 1969, he was invited to work on early transistorized underwater telephone repeaters and Admiralty Surface Weapons establishment.

In 1970, he returned to Malta to teach at the old MCAST and the University, where as a result of his initiative technical awareness was introduced in all post-secondary schools. In 1993, he introduced courses for teachers of technology. He advocated the inclusion of knowledge of technology in the entry requirements of the University of Malta and advised the Ministry of Education to start the new MCAST.

Pulè contributed to engineering journals and published a book on Maltese traditional boats. He regularly contributes to local newspapers to advocate that modern technical processes should be included in early education as a means to widen the depth, horizons and maturity of Maltese young people and create a modern workforce suitable to better the economy of an independent country.

He was responsible for advising the Libyan authorities to invest in technical education in Malta and Libya. He served as court expert and consultant to local industry for over 45 years.

Malta is honouring Charles Pulè in recognition of his distinguished service towards the development of education in Malta.



Maria Tabone was born in Valletta on 9 February 1920 to Ellen Caruana Dingli and Magistrate Francis (Kikki) Wirth. She was educated at St Joseph’s Covent.

She married eensu Tabone on 23 November 1941 in Victoria, Gozo and took up residence in St Julian’s. They had 9 children, 19 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.

During her husband’s term as President of Malta, Mrs Tabone worked tirelessly for the Malta Community Chest Fund. She was always sensitive to the plight of the suffering and the less fortunate. Together with some friends, she helped in several fund raising events in aid of the Missions and the Little Sisters of the Poor.

She was founder member of the Moviment Nisa Partit Nazzjonalista.

Mrs Tabone dedicated her life to her husband and children. She loyally supported her husband in his medical profession and his political career.

Malta is honouring Maria Tabone in recognition of her outstanding contribution towards the welfare of the people of Malta.



Peter Valentino was born at Sliema, in 1969. Since his childhood, he has been practising sailing as a sporting discipline. He became member of the Royal Malta Yacht Club and has also served as Vice-Commodore. In the 1990s, he was the Club’s representative with the Malta Sailing Federation. During the period 1996-2000, he was national coach preparing Maltese athletes for the Games of Small Nations in Iceland in 1997, where they achieved satisfactory results. He was also coach for the Maltese athlete at the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000.

He served as judge both locally and abroad where he established useful contacts for sailing in Malta. In November 2000, he joined the list of international judges of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). He still maintains this position, which is extended every four years. As a result, he served as a member of the International Jury of the ISAF World Sailing Games in Europe, South America, the Middle East and Africa.

He participated at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens as a volunteer. This led to being appointed as a judge for the ParOlympic Games in London in 2012.

During 2013, he served as Chairman of the International Jury of the International Federation for Disabled Sailors World Champships in Ireland, and of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, Malta. To date, he has taken part in 200 sailing events in 20 countries.

Malta is honouring Peter Valentino in recognition of his contribution towards the development of sports in Malta, in particular, sailing.



Passionate about Malta’s heritage, Astrid Vella is the co-founder of Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA), a leading Maltese voluntary organisation committed to the protection of Malta’s built and natural heritage, as well as to ensuring a healthy quality of life.

Along with heritage protection, she has built up experience in issues of land use and development planning, through supporting local residents’ groups which are facing health problems due to overdevelopment, traffic congestion, toxic emissions and water issues, as well as loss of residents’ rights of access to the countryside, the seashore and public gardens.

Public awareness campaigns directed by Astrid Vella prompted the 2010 MEPA reform as well as the saving of Ramla l-Hamra, Malta’s most beautiful Natura 2000 beach from development, the saving of heritage buildings and gardens from demolition and trees and farms from destruction.

FAA has conducted two successful campaigns against proposals that endangered Malta’s Baroque St John’s Co-Cathedral and Valletta’s unique network of historic underground passages.

In 2009, Astrid Vella won the SOS Malta Volunteer of the Year award and was subsequently awarded the EU prize for most deserving NGO volunteer. A frequent speaker on environment and heritage protection, Mrs. Vella focused attention on civil society’s right to information, which

contributed to the Maltese public’s growing awareness of its rights to participate in environmental decisions that affect it. Mrs Vella is a rapporteur to the EU on Malta’s obligations to disclose environmental information.





Valentina Ivanovna Matvienko is Chairperson of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation.

She was born on 7 April 1949 in the Ukrainian S.S.R. She started her political career in the 1980s in Saint Petersburg. During the period 1991 to 1995, she served her country as Ambassador to Malta, and from 1997 to 1998, Ambassador to Greece.

During the period 1998 to 2003, Mrs Matvienko was Deputy Prime Minister of Russia for Welfare and Presidential Envoy to the Northwestern Federal District in 2003. She became the first female Governor in the history Russia, following her election as Governor of St Petersburg. Under her leadership, the city of St Petersburg experienced a sustained period of economic development culminating in a large number of megaprojects in housing, the enhancement of the city’s infrastructure and transformed the Shushary industrial zone into an important centre of the automotive industry in Russia.

Furthermore, her administration launched a number of programmes intended to promote St Petersburg as a tourist location. In 2008, St Petersburg became the seat of the Constitutional Court of Russia.

On 21 September 2011 she was elected Chairperson of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, the country’s third-highest office.

Mrs Matvienko graduated from the Leningrad Institute of Chemistry and Pharmaceutics. She is married to Vladimir Vasilyevich Matvienko and has a son.

Malta is honouring H.E. Valentina Matvienko in recognition of her contribution towards the enhancement of bilateral cooperation and the friendly relations between the people of Malta and the Russian Federation.



Alain Dutheil was born in 1945 in Martigues (France) and is a graduate in Electrical Engineering from the Ecole Supérieure d’Ingénieurs de Marseilles, France.

He started his career in 1969 with Texas Instruments in Dallas and up to 1982 occupied positions with Texas Instruments in Texas as well as in France and Portugal, and with Discrete Products in France. He joined Thomson Semiconductors in 1983 as General Manager of the Aix-en Provence factory in France. The French company Thomson Semiconducteurs and the Italian manufacturer SGS Microelettronica then gave birth to the Franco-Italian group SGS-Thomson Microelectronics (now STMicroelectronics). He served as General Manager of Discrete Products Division of STMicroelectronics N.V. In 1989, he became Corporate Vice President of STMicroelectronics. In 1994, he was appointed Corporate Vice President, Strategic Planning, in addition to his position as Corporate Vice President, Human Resources 1992 to 2005.

From 2005 to 2010, he served as STMicroelectronics’ Chief Operating Officer, Vice Chairman of the Corporate Executive Committee and became in 2008 CEO of ST-Ericsson a joint venture between STMicroelectronics and Ericsson. He served as Director of CATRENE, the pan-European Programme for advanced cooperative Research and Development in Microelectronics. Dutheil served as President and Chief Executive Officer of STMicroelectronics SA for 10 years and as Chairman of the Board of STS, an ST-Chinese joint venture, until he retired in 2011.

Today, he serves as Chairman of the Board of STH, company holding ST shares for France and Italy, Chairman of the Board of Ecole Centrale de Marseille and as Director of ST Foundation

He was named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour by the French Government in recognition for his outstanding career in the service of science and industry.

Malta is honouring Alain Dutheil in recognition of his exceptional contribution towards the development of industry in Malta and commonweal of the Maltese people.



Mrs Margrith Lütschg-Emmenegger has worked in Trade Finance with a special focus on Forfaiting and Factoring for most of her professional life, first with Barclays Bank, and then with Midland Bank Aval in London before joining West Merchant Bank (now WestLB AG) where she had global responsibility for Forfaiting/Factoring within WestLB AG, which was then an international market leader in these products.

She joined FIMBank on 1st April 2003 as Executive Vice President, responsible for Business Development, and was appointed President on 1st September 2004.

She was educated in Switzerland and became a member of the board of the Swiss Association for Forfaiters in 1983. In 1995, she became Founding Chairperson of the Association of Forfaiters in the Americas. In 1999, Mrs Lütschg-Emmenegger co-founded the International Forfaiting Association, where she served as Deputy Chairperson until September 2003. She occupies several board positions in companies in emerging markets which focus on offering Factoring and Forfaiting services.

This year, she was elected Chairperson of the International Factors Group (IFG). Founded in 1963, the IFG is recognised as the representative trade association for the factoring and asset based finance industry worldwide, and is composed of more than 160 members representing 50 countries.

Mrs Lütschg-Emmenegger has written several articles on finance and is author of a book, published in 1998 by Euromoney, entitled A Guide to Forfaiting. Moreover, she has been a regular speaker on the subject, travelling around the world explaining the benefits of Forfaiting and Factoring.

Malta is honouring Margrith Lütschg-Emmenegger in recognition of her exceptional contribution towards the common good of the Maltese and the development of Malta as a financial centre.


Abdurazagh Ismail Zmirli was born in Tripoli, Libya, in 1948. He was educated at the Tripoli Secondary School. In 1972, he graduated as a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Manchester and in 1977 obtained an MBA (Transportation) from the University of Washington.

Mr Zmirli’s association with Malta dates back to 1975 when as a Technical Manager at Libyan Airlines he assisted in helping the newly established Air Malta develop its technical department.

He also assisted in promoting operations and maintenance opportunities in Malta. In 1990, he was called upon to be the Managing Director of Medavia, Mediterranean Aviation Company Limited, which was established in 1978 as a joint venture between Air Malta, Libyan Airlines and Libyan Maltese Holding Company. Under his leadership, Medavia developed from a small office in Valletta with 23 employees into a company based in Safi Aviation Park providing air-charter operations and maintenance. Medavia currently operates in Malta, Libya, Mauritania and Sudan with 220 employees.

Locally, he is active within the Arab and Muslim community and, through his position on the Board of Trustees of Mariam Al Batool School and various other non-governmental organisations, assists people with their educational and cultural needs.

He is Life Member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and earned the Leader of the Year 2012 Award by Air News and Bank of Valletta.

Malta is honouring Abdurazagh Ismail Zmirli in recognition of his exceptional contribution towards the development of local industry, the common good of the people of Malta and the friendly ties between the people of Libya and Malta.




on an honorary basis


Annie Sciriha was born and educated in Scotland. In 1963, she qualified as a radiographer in diagnostic after having trained in Aberdeen. She pursued her studies in Glasgow where she qualified as radiographer in radiotherapy in 1965. She followed further training in radiotherapy in Manchester and the Royal Marsden Hospital, London. She worked in the major hospitals of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Inverness.

In 1973, she was selected to work as a radiographer in the Radiotherapy Department at the King George V Hospital, later Sir Paul Boffa Hospital. She was the first radiographer to treat Maltese cancer patients with Cobalt therapy. Malta is honouring Annie Sciriha in recognition of her services to health care in Malta, particularly, the treatment of cancer patients.


The Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) is being awarded to members of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM), and to members of the Missione Italiana di Collaborazione nel Campo della Difesa (MICCD).

On 11 October 2013, the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) participated in a search and rescue mission in collaboration with Italian authorities in the Central Mediterranean Sea in order to rescue the occupants of a boat in distress located 60 nautical miles south of Lampedusa. During the course of this rescue operation, over 200 lives were saved by the AFM. Unfortunately, some 268 persons died.

In this rescue mission, the AFM despatched a fixed-wing aircraft B200 King Air, the P61 patrol boat, and an AB212 helicopter of MICCD. Malta is honouring members of the Armed Forces of Malta and members of the Missione Italiana di Collaborazione nel Campo della Difesa, in recognition of their distinguished and exceptional role in action on 11 October 2013 during this operation in the Central Mediterranean Sea to save life at sea and rescue people in distress.

Armed Forces of Malta

Major George Abela

Major Russell Caruana

Captain Pierre Paul Carabez

Lt. Peter Paul Debono

Second Lt. Benjamin Vassallo

Staff Sgt. Ruben Demicoli

Sgt. Mario Gauci

Sgt. Philip Cardona

Sgt. Christopher Xuereb

Sgt. Jamie Desira

Sgt. Jesmond Agius

Sgt. Johan Theuma

Sgt. Alexander Gatt

Bdr. Jean Paul Grima

Bdr. Johann Aquilina

Bdr. Calcidonio Darmanin

Bdr. Ryan Debattista

LBdr. Simon Wayne Muscat

LBdr. Daniel Vella

LBdr. Karl Fabri

LBdr. Alvin Cutajar

LBdr. Pierre Cassar

LBdr. Glenn Attard

LBdr. Christian Muscat

LBdr. Eman Fenech

Gnr. Rodrick Debono

Gnr. Charlie Vella

Gnr. Daniel Abdilla

Gnr. Gian Luca Grixti

Gnr. Darren Borg

Gnr. Shaun Ciantar

Gnr. Lydon Luke Grech

Gnr. Malcolm Paul Busuttil

Missione Italiana di Collaborazione nel Campo della Difesa

Maggiore Mario Bavagnoli

1o Mar. Lgt Giacomo Mirra

1o Maresciallo Davide Vesce

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