See our diary of events,with booking details, including the annual visit to Gibraltar and seminar, as well as talks happening at Gibraltar House in London.
Our next event, from 8 to 15 June, is the Society's annual Visit to Gibraltar. We already have a record party of 34 people, but you can still join in. Contact Janet Whiteley at email@example.com or tel. 012 6481 1101 as soon as possible.
Then the UK Visit and Annual Luncheon will be on Saturday 28 September. Lunch, at 1.15 in the Trafalgar Tavern at Greenwich, will be preceded by a 90-minute guided tour of the Old Royal Naval College, meeting at the Visitors Centre just opposite the Cutty Sark at 11.15. The cost for the tour and 3-course lunch will be for £47 for members, £52 for non-members (exclusive of drinks which can be ordered and paid for at the bar). For lunch only, members pay £40, non-members £45. Cheques, payable to The Friends of Gibraltar, should be sent by 23 August to our organiser Neil Norfolk, a well-known Friends member, at 32 Osprey Road, Basingstoke, RG22 5PR. Any queries to him please at firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. 012 5633 1530.
Reach the Cutty Sark by Docklands Light Railway from Bank, Canary Wharf or Stratford International, or by river bus. After lunch there will be time for visiting the Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum, Queen's House, Greenwich Observatory, Greenwich Market, even flying over the river from the O2 Arena to the ExCeL Exhibition Centre by Gibraltar-style cable car, and finally, if the weather is good, cruising up-river back to Central London.
This year's Seminar and Annual Dinner will now be held on Saturday 2 November (not 19 October as previously advertised). As in 2012, the venue will be the Wykeham Suite of the Wessex Hotel, Paternoster Row, Winchester, S023 9LQ, adjacent to Winchester Cathedral. Details will follow later. Meanwhile any enquiries please to Janet Whiteley at email@example.com or tel. 012 6481 1101.
Finally, this year's Christmas Party will be on Wednesday evening 27 November at the Travellers Club, 106 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5EP. This is by kind arrangement of our Treasurer Tim Lawson-Cruttenden, a member of the Club. Again, details will follow later.
Minister Bossano meets the Friends of Gibraltar
On 15 May 2013, at Gibraltar House in London, the Hon. Joseph Bossano spoke to a meeting of the Friends. Mr Bossano is now Minister for Enterprise, Training and Employment, but is remembered as Chief Minister from 1988 to 1996 and Leader of the Opposition from 1978 to 1988 and again from 1996 to 2011. As our Chairman Sir Francis Richards said in introducing him, no-one has now been longer at the heart of Gibraltar politics.
Joe Bossano said he wanted to explain "why we Gibraltarians are what we are" and "why we feel as we do about the United Kingdom". So he told us the story of his early life, describing how he came into politics in order to devote himself to sustaining and strengthening the relationship between Gibraltar and Britain.
Born only weeks before the Second World War, Joe was evacuated first, as a baby, to Casablanca, then to London and later Northern Ireland. On his return to Gibraltar he enjoyed a happy childhood at Devil's Gap. He well remembers the solidarity between his large, over-crowded family and their neighbours, and the comradeship of the local boys: models of the kind of closely-knit, inter-dependent, self-reliant community he later worked to build in Gibraltar as a whole.
His active interest in trade unionism and politics began when, after grammar school and national service, he went to London, living first at a Salvation Army hostel in the East End and then with his uncle near the football ground at Upton Park. He signed on as a merchant seaman and joined the West Ham Labour Party, the National Union of Seamen, and the Union's campaign against the Victorian act of parliament which still largely regulated service in the Merchant Navy.
It was then the Marine Society's College of the Sea in Lambeth which enabled him to pass exams qualifying him for university education in economics at the LSE and in Italian philology, including Sicilian dialectology, in Birmingham and Palermo. He might have pursued these academic interests, but he decided to devote his life instead to Gibraltar and to the British connection.
His first political issue in Gibraltar was with the policy of Free Association with Britain, which he regarded as an inadequate and insecure foundation for the relationship. So it was that he came to join the Integration with Britain Party, in whose ranks, in 1972, he was first elected to the House of Assembly. In 1974 he became active in the TGWU, where he led the long campaign for wage parity with Britain. Meanwhile, when the UK government refused Integration, he made a fresh political start, founding the Gibraltar Democratic Movement and in 1976 the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party, GSLP.
His long subsequent career, as Opposition Leader and Chief Minister, is familiar to all. A key element in the GSLP's election success in 1988 was its opposition to the Anglo-Spanish "Brussels Agreement". Despite blandishments from London, Mr Bossano maintained this firm position as Chief Minister, insisting on the Gibraltarians' right of self-determination. Eventually, but only after the defeat of the Anglo-Spanish "joint sovereignty" proposal, Britain had now re-established its policy of 50 years ago – namely that the UK will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another State against their wishes. and, furthermore, will not enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content.
From this long history he concluded that all attempts to undermine the relationship between Gibraltar and Britain will fail. But there had been too many "near misses" for comfort.
After his talk Mr Bossano attended a reception with members of the Friends, including Sir John Chapple, who was Governor towards the end of his chief ministership. Leading Westminster Parliamentarians present were Baroness Hooper, President of the Society, and the Hon. Lindsay Hoyle, M.P., President of the All-Party Parliamentary Gibraltar Group.
2012 Christmas Party
Lastly the Society held a Christmas Party at Speaker's House, Westminster on Wednesday 28 November from 6.30 to 8.00 p.m. The official residence of the Speaker of the House of Commons is not open to the public and we were able to hold the event at this prestigious venue only by special arrangement between Albert Poggio and the Hon. Lindsay Hoyle, M.P., the Chairman of Ways and Means. Several other Members of Parliament graced us with their presence. The event was well supported and enjoyed by all.
Annual Seminar 2012
This year's Annual Seminar was held at Winchester on Saturday 27 October at the Mercure Wessex Hotel adjacent to the Cathedral, and was followed by the customary Annual Dinner. As our guest speakers we were proud to welcome the Hon. Dr John Cortes, now Minister for Health and Environment; Geraldine Finlayson, Director of the Institute for Gibraltarian Studies, Gibraltar Museum; Mary Ingoldby, Oral Historian, Bristol; and Mario Mosquera (Chairman) and Claire Montado (CEO), Gibraltar Heritage Trust. The event was recorded in the Rock Talk issue that was sent to members around Christmas.
The Annual Luncheon was held at Westminster on Saturday 22 September 2012.
A large group of members gathered in good time at Dean's Yard by Westminster Abbey, on a bright but cold morning. There followed a fascinating tour of the Abbey, led by Richard Palmer, who placed the various statues and monuments that we paused at into historical context. Many intriguing details were shared, and we emerged with a much clearer picture of the Abbey and its place in British history. Julian then took the party into Westminster School and shared some of the background to the buildings and traditions of that establishment.
The group of Friends then walked a little way to the Annual Luncheon in the Loose Box on Horseferry Road. This was a splendid event, with an opportunity to enjoy a pre-lunch drink and nibbles, followed by a more formal meal in excellent company. In perhaps typical fashion, the meal went on longer than initially planned, and the afternoon 'Blue Plaque' walk was curtailed somewhat, but still proved very interesting. This short walk focused on more recent events and highlighted buildings that had been used by current political parties and dignitaries. The walk completed the circuit back to Westminster Abbey and, after thanking our guides, we dispersed to enjoy the evening sunshine on the way home.
Our thanks to Julian Lyne-Pirkis for organising a very successful event that was enjoyed by all who were able to attend.
Annual Visit of the Friends to Gibraltar 11 – 15th June 2012
A very successful visit to Gibraltar took place as planned in mid-June. A report covering the event, courtesy of Richard Lord, is available as:
Additional photographs will be posted on the site as soon as possible.
A memorable Queen's Birthday at the Tower of London
contributed by Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden, T.D.
The Gibraltar Government and the Royal Gibraltar Regiment are adept at performing ceremonies. The Friends were not therefore surprised when treated to a feast of tradition at the Tower of London on 21 April 2012. The day started with a coffee reception, followed shortly thereafter by a full 61 gun salute. This involved twenty more than the rival salute which was performed in Green Park by Kings Troop the Royal Horse Artillery who only fired forty-one guns. The difference is attributable to the custom that Royal Salutes fired from Royal Palaces constitute 61 guns. Well done to Gun Troop RGR for their excellent gun drills and for a sterling performance.
Lunch and speeches followed with an excellent address by Lieutenant Colonel Colin Risso MC whose relaxed style endeared him to everyone. Sadly, but to his credit, the new Chief Minister was absent. We were informed that he was then on nappy changing duty in his newly acquired role as parent.We wish him well in undertaking his dual responsibilities as both parent and Chief Minister. In his place Mr Gilbert Licudi QC gave an excellent address which was well received. Two other Ministers, Mr Steven Linares and Mr Charles Bruzon, were also present.
The afternoon continued with a "beating the retreat" by the Band whose music and marching was to an extremely high standard. The wonderful performance by the Band brought a memorable day to a great conclusion.
The Friends would like to thank the Gibraltar Government and the Royal Gibraltar Regiment for their generous hospitality and for an amazingly memorable day.
An evening at the cinema: Gibraltar, by Ana Garcia
contributed by Richard Wells
Some Society members will remember Alec Guinness criss-crossing the Strait in The Captain's Paradise (1953), and others will know the vertiginous opening sequence of the James Bond spectacular The Living Daylights (1987). Rock Talk has reviewed films set in the Gibraltar of the Second World War.
On 18 April members of the Society enjoyed an up-to-date experience, for we were privileged to meet a young Gibraltarian director and to watch her new film with her. Her name is Ana Garcia, and the film is called simply Gibraltar. Her professionalism reminded us how wide a range of skills the new generation of Gibraltarians have developed.
The film, a full-length documentary running 83 minutes, has two subtly interwoven themes. First, how the closure of the frontier matured the Gibraltarian community, developing its pride, self-reliance and patriotism – so far from what Spain had intended. Second, the way in which the approach of marriage not only forges new links but can also help strengthen one's original roots – which some may not have expected.
Ana's grandfather was Peter Isola, who for much of the frontier closure period was Deputy Chief Minister or Leader of the Opposition. The film neatly cuts between moving newsreel of personal separations and political demonstrations, family archive film with grandfatherly wisdom, and commentary from other leading figures – ranging from Joe Bossano, always pithy and often sharp, to the eloquent and well-chosen words of Dominique Searle. And cleverly interspersed with the political history comes the personal story of Ana herself and her return to her family in Gibraltar to prepare for her wedding. She marries her husband, and at the same time has rediscovered her love for her homeland.
We are deeply indebted to Ana Garcia for the time she so generously spent with us. Those who missed the show can visit the website , which includes a short promotional video. And we can all wish Ana well with her next venture. It will demonstrate her versatility, for the scene of the new film is Wigan Pier.
Silver Anniversary Champagne Reception on Wednesday 22 February 2012
On Wednesday evening 22 February His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester, K.G., G.C.V.O., Royal Patron of the Society, attended a Champagne Reception to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of its foundation. 120 members and invited guests drank to the health of the Society and of Gibraltar, and all were presented to His Royal Highness.
Leading the guests from Gibraltar was the new Chief Minister, the Hon. Fabian Picardo. The venue, the Oxford and Cambridge Club, was well chosen for the principal guests, because the Duke graduated from Cambridge University and the Chief Minister from Oxford. Moreover His Royal Highness is an honorary member of the Club, as are HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HM Queen Margrethe of Denmark, whose portraits hang in the elegant Smoking Room of the Club where the Reception was held.
The Chairman of the Friends, Sir Francis Richards, who was Governor from 2003 to 2006, escorted His Royal Highness throughout, and in a brief ceremony presented him with a small silver model of the Rock as a memento of the Society's silver anniversary. Other former Governors, Sir John Chapple and Sir Robert Fulton, were among those present. Leading Westminster Parliamentarians were Baroness Hooper, President of the Society, and the Hon. Lindsay Hoyle, M.P., Chairman of Ways and Means and President of the All-Party Parliamentary Gibraltar Group. Also present was Mr Tito Benady, one of the four original founders of the Society. The Chief Minister was accompanied by Mr Albert Poggio, Head of the Gibraltar Government Office in London, who as a committee member of the Friends plays a leading role in organising the Society's support for Gibraltar.
This was an occasion for the Society to recall its origins as the Friends of Gibraltar Heritage Society. The Gibraltar Heritage Trust, with which the Society has cooperated throughout its history, was represented in London by Dr Keith Farrell. The Duke of Gloucester was formerly a professional architect, and has a special interest in architectural heritage conservation. He was the Society's founder President, becoming Patron in 1988.
The Gibraltar Chronicle of 25 February carried a report and a photograph of the Reception. Additional photographs are available on a separate page on this site.
HRH Arriving HRH and Chief Minister Organiser being introduced
HRH signing event book Memento being presented
The Reception was preceded at 4.30 p.m. by a lively Annual General Meeting, also at the Oxford and Cambridge Club. The Chairman introduced the meeting, and commented on the excellent progress that has been made over the year. the Vice-chairman then presented an annual report to the members, and outlined forthcoming events and projects for the Society. A full report will be available on this site in the near future.
Information from last year's AGM is available by using the links below. Minutes, accounts and a short report for this year's event will be published shortly.
Monday 17 October 2011 - Gibraltar Day in London
A number of members of the Society were invited to attend the Reception held at the Guildhall in London on Monday 17 October. This Reception is organised by the London Office of the Gibraltar Government to celebrate the strong links between Gibraltar and the City. Some photographs are attached on a sub-page for your information.
Saturday 15 October 2011 - Annual Seminar and Dinner, Winchester
A well attended and very successful annual seminar and dinner took place at the Winchester Royal Hotel. A short report of the event, and minutes of the joint meeting of the Friends of Gibraltar ExCo and representatives of the Gibraltar Heritage Trust, are available as a sub-page to this section of the web site.
Friday 16 September 2011 — Visit to Portsmouth, including the Annual Luncheon of the Friends
A very successful visit to HMS Diamond, HMS Victory and the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth took place on Friday 16 September, as planned. This included the Annual Luncheon in a the Old Customs House restaurant. The event was fully subscribed and enjoyed by all. A full report will be included in the next issue of Rock Talk.
Sunday 5 to Sunday 12 June 2011 — The Friends' Annual Visit to Gibraltar
A full visit programme of local visits and tours led to a very successful Annual Visit to the Rock. A full report and photographs is now available on a sub-page.
Tuesday 24 May 2011, at 6.00 p.m. — Meeting with the Hon. Lindsay Hoyle MP, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons
Mr Hoyle, a very good friend of Gibraltar, was from 2001 to 2010 Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Gibraltar Group In the new Parliament in 2010 he was elected Chairman of Ways and Means, making him the senior of the three Deputy Speakers of the House of Commons. He most kindly agreed to speak to us and answer questions.
Mr Hoyle gave a very interesting talk to a well attended meeting of the Friends. He presented his views on the activities of the all-party Gibraltar Group in Westminster, and shared an insight into the workings of Parliament and the Gibraltar question. He was very clear on the importance of respecting the views of the inhabitants of disputed areas such as Gibraltar, and fielded many questions after his talk from an attentive audience. Discussions continued into the refreshments after the meeting itself.
Event on Thursday 14 April 2011 — Meeting with Lieutenant Colonel Colin Risso, M.C.
Colin Risso, Commanding Officer of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, delivered a very interesting talk on the history and role of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment to members of the Friends in Gibraltar House. He described the contribution that the Regiment has made to operations, its continued presence in various parts of the world on exercises and deployments, and its role in ensuring the Security of the Rock. A lively question and answer session followed his talk, which continued over refreshments.