The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Record-breaker Neil Agius, hero Sean Meli, doctor Jonathan Joslin among those awarded honours

Monday, 13 December 2021, 13:39 Last update: about 7 months ago

Record breaking swimmer Neil Agius, emergency doctor Jonathan Joslin and Sean Meli – the man who rescued a young boy from near-certain drowning – were amongst those awarded some of the nation’s top honours on Republic Day.

On Republic Day each year, the President, on behalf of the government and people of Malta, pays public tribute to a number of Maltese citizens who distinguish themselves in different fields of endeavour, by appointing them to The National Order of Merit or to the Xirka Ġieħ ir-Repubblika, or by awarding them the Midalja għall-Qlubija or the Midalja għall-Qadi tar-Repubblika.

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During the ceremony, President George Vella appointed fifteen members, including one organisation, to The National Order of Merit. 

These were: Reno Calleja, Professor Sir Alfred Cuschieri, Professor Ludvic Zrinzo, Professor Lino Bianco, Professor Joseph Cacciottolo, educator Frederick Fearne, Norman Hamilton, Professor Edward Zammit, and the St. John Rescue Corps amongst others.

Hon. Darrin Quiroz Camilleri, who was born in the United States to a Maltese immigrant, was also made an honorary member of the National Order of Merit.

Hon Camilleri is renowned for his political career becoming the first-ever Maltese-American and youngest Latino to serve in the Michigan Legislature, in 2016. He is one of the very few descendants of the Maltese diaspora who is elected or appointed to public office anywhere in the US.

Dr. Jonathan Joslin and Dr. Michael Spiteri, who both specialise in emergency care were also awarded the National Order of Merit, as was Father Gwann Xerri, who passed away from Covid-19 last May while he worked with the poor and marginalised in Brazil.

Art historian and conservator Porfessor Sante Guido and maritime industry player George Procopiou were made honorary members of the National Order of Merit as well.

Two individuals were awarded the Midalja għall-Qlubija.

Raymond Grixti, a doctor who distinguished himself for his rapid act of bravery where he managed to give first aid to a person who was seriously injured in a hostile environment and who was not easily reachable, was one of those two.

The second was Sean Meli, a former waterpolo player who became renowned for rescuing a 14-year-old boy who was swept to sea at Qui-Si-Sana, Sliema.

11 others were awarded the Midalja għall-Qadi tar-Repubblika.

Swimmer Neil Agius, who broke the world record for the longest non-stop, unassisted swim where he swam 125.6km from Linosa, Italy back to Malta in just over 52 hours in his quest to raise awareness about plastic pollution at sea, was one of those awarded the medal.

Philip Michael Chircop, Lino Farrugia, Anton Grasso, Lilian Maistre, Jane Marshall, Charles Paul Muscat, Michael Pace, Connie Vella, Ethel Vento Zahra, and Joe Zammit Ciantar were the other 10 awarded the honour.

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