Miriam Cauchi appointed to The National Order of Merit

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Miriam Cauchi included in Republic Day Honours and AwardsOn 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 gieh ir-Repubblika, or by awarding them the Midalja ghall-Qadi tar-Repubblika. Nationals of other countries may be conferred with honorary membership of the Order or of the Xirka or awarded the Midalja ghall-Qadi tar-Repubblika on an honorary basis. In rarer cases the Midalja ghall-Qlubija can be awarded, even posthumously, to a Maltese citizen for an act of exceptional bravery.

This year’s Investiture Ceremony again took place at The Palace, Valletta, on Sunday, the 13th of December 2009, immediately following the customary Ceremonial Parade held at the Palace Square.

During the Ceremony, two honorary officers and six members were appointed to The National Order of Merit, one individual was awarded the Midalja ghall-Qlubija and ten members were awarded the Midalja ghall-Qadi tar-Repubblika.

The Investiture Ceremony was the culmination of a process which started with a public call for nominations issued in September to which a number of citizens responded by submitting their nomination.

(in absentia)

Born in Malta and emigrating to Australia in 1956 with his parents, John Aquilina graduated from Sydney University and worked as a High School teacher of History and English for nearly 10 years before becoming a Member of Parliament.

He started his political activity in 1970 when he joined the Australian Labour Party at the age of 20. He served his party in Local Government between 1977 and 1983, and at 27 occupied the seat of Mayor of the Alderman Blacktown City Council between 1977 and 1981.

Elected to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales in November 1981, Aquilina has served on a number of Committees in various positions. Between 2003 and 2007 he was elected Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly. He has also been appointed Minister on various occasions. In 1995, as Minister for Education and Training, the Maltese language was given recognition and is now taught for the Higher School Certificate. He was also Shadow Minister for Education and Training between 1988 and 1995. He is currently Leader of the House in the Legislative Assembly and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier.

Aquilina is a success story of a person born in Malta who never forgot his roots. He has championed the causes of Maltese migrants including that of extending Dual Citizenship, which ironically he could not benefit from being a member of the NSW parliament.


Instrumental in the negotiations between the Government of Malta and the HSBC Group during the sale of the Mid-Med bank. Wallis made his mark on the Maltese scene because of his deep interest in Malta’s heritage and environment. He set up two funds for assisting Malta’s different needs in both these spheres. Through his initiative HSBC Malta were the first promoters of the 34U as well as investors in the EcoSkola project. He also facilitated the participation of Malta in the Project Climate Change organised by HSBC worldwide.

Wallis supported Malta despite a harsh international competition in attracting the setting up of an international Call Centre for HSBC. This resulted in the creation of 500 new jobs. He was also instrumental in the setting up of the Gozo Service Centre, creating much needed employment in the sister island.

During his tenure in Malta as HSBC’s Chief Executive Officer, the bank achieved record profits for its shareholders, however during his tenure he also imbued the bank with a sense of corporate social responsibility. Has been with the HSBC Group for over 30 years and served in Asia, the Middle East and in Europe. Following his stint in Malta, Wallis was appointed Chief Executive HSBC Bank in Brazil and is now posted in Hong Kong as Global Head of Business Management.


Graduated in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Malta in 1969. Appointed research assistant at the University of Malta in 1971, graduated M.Phil in 1975 and completed her Ph.D. at Guy’s Hospital, London in 1979. Was the first female to be appointed full time professor, and remained the only female professor for over 20 years.

Has headed the department of Anatomy several times and has also been acting head of the Department of Physiology and Biochemistry in the past.Is also an ex ufficio member of the Faculty Board of Medicine and Surgery and that of Dental Surgery and is chairperson of the Faculty Admissions Committee. Has collaborated with the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Malta and with the Department of Pathology to carry out in-vitro testing on human cancer cell lines. Internationally, collaborations are ongoing with the Department of Bio-organic Pharmacy of Pisa and Nottingham University, U.K.

As President of the Gender Issues Committee at the University, Camilleri Podesta` strives to lessen the inequality between sexes on campus and interests herself in other local issues such as domestic violence. Is also a member of the University Research Ethics Committee and of the ACCESS-Disability Support Committee. Appointed by the Maltese Law courts to carry out medico-legal post-mortem examinations. She is also a member of the Council of Health.


From a young age Miriam Cauchi used to sing at every available opportunity and sang in schools, choirs, church activities, musicals and local festivals. Her roots do not include any particular musical background and it was her sheer determination, and her inner spirit, that led her to reach a very high standard in her musical profession.

Miriam Cauchi is a firmly established Gozitan soprano, making a name for herself both in Malta and overseas. Graduating with full honours from the Sofia State Music Academy in 1997, she furthered her studies in Milan and attended master classes in Barcelona. She is the recipient of the Gheorghi Slatev Cherkin Competition and the Bulgarian XIV National Competition Svetoslav Obretenov. Possessing a rich, clear and velvety voice that enables her to tackle a wide range of repertoire from Italian bel canto opera, oratorio, to lieder and contemporary works, Cauchi has performed extensively in Malta, Germany, Slovenia, Spain, Bulgaria, and America.

Miriam Cauchi is also very much in demand for recitals with pianoforte and chamber ensembles. She is a major ambassador of Maltese vocal music having recorded important compositions by Maltese composers, such as Abos, Camilleri, Isouard, Vassallo, Vella and Zerafa.

(in absentia)

Born and raised in Malta, graduated from Glasgow University in 1989 in Medicine and Surgery. Completed his Ph.D. and M.Sc. at the Beatson Institute of Cancer Research in Glasgow in 1997.

De Bono joined The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in 2003 as a Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology. As well as research, he is involved in training and supervising Ph.D. and M.D. (Res) research students and treating patients with castration resistant prostate cancer.

Johann de Bono has received many awards during his career, holds editorial roles at peer-reviewed journals and is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London) and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. He is the UK European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) representative and currently sits on the ESMO Board of Directors as well as the NCRI Prostate Cancer Clinical Studies Group. Has been involved in developing more than 100 potential new drugs over the past decade, several of which are now available to patients. His current research is to create new molecular targeted therapies to improve treatment for prostate cancer patients.


Born in Birzebbu?a, Magro’s career has been intertwined between teaching, writing poetry and union activity. In 1961 started his educational career as a teacher at primary and secondary levels and also served as a librarian and as a guidance teacher. Taught also at the Institute of Tourism Studies, the Circolo Dante Alighieri and the Police Academy.

Magro was also involved in trade unionism, and in 1995 was appointed Secretary General of the Confederation of Malta Trade Unions. Magro was also a council member of the Malta Union of Teachers for 14 years.

Magro’s publications include books, articles in various papers, apart from having a number of his poems published in various anthologies. Magro also wrote an Oratorio dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the official hymn of Fgura.

After his retirement from the public service, Magro has kept an active life, as secretary of the Ghaqda Poeti Maltin, member of the Akkademja tal-Malti and of the Ghaqda tal-Malti (Università). Has long been Chairman of the Fgura Parish Council and is the International Secretary of the Malta Catholic Action.


Born in Valletta in 1939 he studied at the Lyceum and the Royal University of Malta graduating as a Medical Doctor in 1964.

He was one of the first persons in Malta to have specialised in the then emerging field of Oncology by furthering his studies at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London in 1970, and has been practising as a specialist in oncology in the Maltese islands for the last 40 years. Muscat has been closely supporting cancer patients during all these years, even working past his retirement. His role at Sir Paul Boffa Hospital is to diagnose the type of cancer from which the patient is suffering and prescribe the treatment best suited to combat the disease. Through periodicals, journals and conferences he strives to keep abreast of developments in the treatment of cancer. In addition he was actively involved in awareness campaigns on all media, and has been giving continuous support and assistance to the Malta Hospice Movement.

Testimony to the work carried out by Muscat, with the assistance of the staff in the Radiotherapy department at Boffa Hospital, are the numerous patients who over the years have been either cured or had their life prolonged as a result of treatment given. His humane qualitites with his patients and their families were a hallmark of his practice and in recognition of his service in the treatment of cancer in Malta, he was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Radiologists in 2002 a very rare achievement since this is only normally awarded through examinations.


Shortly after traineeship with the Sciclunas Bank, Vassallo moved to Milan where he joined the Chase Manhattan Bank. Later on he moved to New York where he taught Credit Analysis with the bank there. Vassallo read economics at the University of Malta from where he graduated in 1970.

Appointed assistant general manager of Chase Manhattan in the Dominican Republic in 1975, but later returned to New York working on the financing of precious and non-precious metals. Was also responsible for the bank’s commodities in South America.

Transferred to London in 1979 and in 1983 appointed the marketing manager of the bank’s Geneve-based private banking arm. Following further high ranking appointments in Luxembourg and Spain, in 1991 he was appointed general manager of the Chase Manhattan Private Bank in Switzerland with responsibility for Southern Europe. In 1993, after 23 years, Vassallo returned to Malta where he was appointed as Governor of the Central Bank of Malta as well as a director on the board of the Malta Financial Services Centre.

Currently Vassallo is working in private local banking in a private capacity.


Bravery is generally associated with a heroic act or a courageous act such as saving someone from drowning or from being engulfed in flames. Normally the person performing an act of altruism acts on the spur of the moment without reflecting on the danger.

An act of bravery however can also involve a very conscious planned out action and a difficult decision to make such as when a person consciously donates one of is organs with a view to saving another person’s life.

This is what happened in this case. Muscat came to know that a person needed a kidney transplant to stay alive, and although the person was not someone who is next of kin, Muscat volunteered to donate one of his kidneys. This act has so far been the first and sole transplant donation by a donor, during his lifetime, to another who is not related to the donor. There are other donors in Malta but normally donations during one’s lifetime are restricted to close family members.

Muscat today is the Vice President of the Transplant Support Group and works unceasingly to foster a culture of organ donation by taking part in meetings and TV and radio programmes with a view to spreading the groups’ message and to encourage other persons to become donors.


For several years Borg was the provincial of the Order of De La Salle Brothers in Malta. Under his term of office the three colleges, De La Salle College, Stella Maris College and St Benild were refurbished with the most modern teaching facilities.

During the 1980’s Borg was involved in the negotiations regarding the future of Church Schools and also in the setting up of the Parents Teachers Associations in Church Schools and was also one of the founders of the Federation of the Parent Teachers Association.

Bro Martin as he is popularly known can also be considered as a pioneer in the issue of education for children with special needs. Under his leadership the Lasallian colleges became more inclusive as they opened their doors to children with special needs. He was appointed President of the Eden Foundation between 2006 and 2008.

For a number of years he was the chairman of the Maltese Council of FISEC (International Sports Federation for Catholic Schools).

Bro Martin was also the chairman of the De La Salle Brothers Publications, instigating the publication of the ‘Malta Year Book’ and the revision of Maltese grammar books such as ‘Grammatika Maltija’ and ‘Ilsien Pajjizi ‘.

In 2008 he was instrumental in organising the Maltese group of athletes who participated in the Paralympics held in Beijing, China.


An economist by profession, Gaetano Buttigieg is synonymous with the Cooperatives Movement in Malta. Having worked for some time with cooperatives in Finland, Buttigieg has strived since 1975 to organize the Koperattiva Produtturi tal-?alib on sound footings and ameliorate the quality of life of its members.

Buttigieg was instrumental in the setting up of the Maltese cooperatives movement as an organisation called APEX in 1996. Through his initiative the APEX organisation became an active member in various European and international cooperatives’ movements.

He has served on several Government appointed Boards and is known for his managerial skills, honesty, integrity, humility and sense of discipline. His altruism is best seen in his philanthropic work with various members of the Maltese society and philanthropic organisations.

Through his initiative the Cooperatives Societies Act was updated in 2001.


Having occupied the positions of Head of the Junior Section at St Joseph Convent, Sliema for eleven years and that of Head of the Mater Boni Consilii School at Paola for eighteen years, Lucienne Cachia has contributed to the education of children from 1952 till 2009. Her enthusiasm and altruism has helped her throughout her long and varied career to motivate both staff and pupils.

A keen sportsperson, Sister Cachia was instrumental in establishing Malta as a participant in FISEC Games and through her involvement in athletics disabled athletes were encouraged to take part in sports. Thanks to her full and constant support, her school was one of the first to be awarded the green flag in the Ekoskola programme. As a religious member of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition she was very sensitive towards inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream education and was instrumental in adapting the school to cater for these pupils.

Following her retirement Sister Lucienne Cachia resumed her voluntary work with the disabled at the Rehabilitation Centre at Corradino. Presently Sr Cachia is in Rome on a sabbatical year during which she will be doing voluntary work with persons with disability.


In 2004 Aaron Ciantar featured for the first time on the Powerboat P1 calendar, going into the event with no competitive ambitions but merely aiming to enjoy himself and gain experience. This was the beginning of a fantastic experience for the brand name Chaudron, and the Ciantar family.

The 2005 Championship was a rewarding experience for Aaron Ciantar and his sister as they gained third place overall with the Sportsperson of the Season being awarded to their father with the Rookie of the Year Award going to Aaron. For the 2006 Championship, Team Chaudron, introduced a brand new racing boat, purposely built by the Chaudron Company Limited, their family run business company established in Malta in 1988.

The experience he gained from his father in the design and manufacture of boats, led Aaron to help design a new Chaudron boat for the 2008 Championship. Aaron, a determined but a modest person, joined forces with the Italian World Champion and this partnership was a big success as they won the P1 World Championship in the Supersport Category.

In 2009 the Championship resulted in an even more outstanding experience and achievement for Aaron Ciantar. Through the financial backing of an Ukranian powerboat fanatic, who bought a revamped Chaudron boat on condition that Aaron co-pilots same, the team again won the World Championship in the same category.


With eight shops operating around Malta under the ‘Maypole’ brand, Debono has come a long way since he started his own small business in 1973. Coming from a family of bakers from Qormi, the bedrock of the Maltese bread, he was naturally inclined to follow in the footsteps of his father and ancestors. His wife, Angela was also a baker.

Coming from a family of six sons and daughters, only Carmelo Debono and one of his brothers became bakers. He started his employment at the age of 14 in his father’s bakery and after he got married opened his own bakery. His father handed over to him the ‘Maypole’ business, which brand he had bought from a certain Carmelo Saliba of Pieta’.

Debono started off in a modest two-roomed bakery, and typical of a number of self-employed persons whose contribution is so vital to the economic well-being of Malta, worked for long hours together with his wife. In 1986 Debono moved to a new bakery, investing in modern and more hygienic machinery. When his children grew up they helped to expand the company. With the children running most of the business Debono concentrated on visiting bread fairs abroad and experimenting with new recipes and new products.

In 2001 he successfully participated in a food exhibition at the European Parliament proudly exhibiting the Maltese traditional bread and in 2007 Debono organised a seminar about Maltese bread.

Debono’s entrepreunership and his love of the Maltese traditional bakery products have, in the light of stringent competition as a result of Malta’s membership of the European Union, gained new significance.


The Intensive Therapy Unit, forming part of the Department of Anesthesia is one of the major, vital units of Mater Dei Hospital. Its dedicated staff of some 158 personnel, ranging from Consultants, Resident Specialists, Nurses, Paramedical staff and Aides work tirelessly for 24 hours a day all week under intense pressure. On admission, patients are classified and assigned beds in accordance with their needs, taking into account the severity of their medical condition, infective status and/or need for isolation.

With other vital contributions coming from the Pharmacy Department and the Physiotherapy team, this dedicated team also responds to urgent calls from the Emergency Department and elsewhere. Moreover the team covers the Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation (Cardiac Arrest) service and the Cardiac Intensive Care. Having a daily average bed occupancy of 85%, the average length of ITU stay is about 6 days. The ITU also works closely with the Infection Control Unit as this is considered as a high priority to their work.

Despite these pressures the ITU team invests heavily in staff development and all members are well trained and specialized in their field. The dedication and selflessness shown by all the staff, irrespective of grade, is evidenced in the numerous public statements made by patients and relatives alike. Many of those using the ITU services acknowledge that the staff go that extra mile to alleviate the physical pain and psychological hurts whatever the situation


Renowned for his literary achievements locally and abroad. Writer of various poems, novels and plays in Maltese, Italian and French. Palma was awarded several prizes, diplomas and prestigious awards from Italy, the UK and the USA for his literary works apart from winning several local rewards and prizes. Member of the Akkademja tal-Malti, G?aqda Letterarja Maltija and Honorary Member of the G?aqda Poeti Maltin.

Born in Floriana, Palma started teaching in Government schools in 1957 before joining the Public Service as a Temporary Clerk Typist in 1959, before retiring in 1987 as an Administrative Assistant.

His major works include the translation of Dante’s La Divina Commedia, a project he started in 1966 and on which he worked for twenty years. In 1993 he commenced translating Shakespeare’s works and has by now published 12 complete plays with another 20 which though finished are still awaiting publication.



An octogenarian John Portelli is recognised as one of the pioneers that worked unceasingly to attract tourists to the Island of Gozo. After having worked at the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel owned by his father, Portelli constructed the Hotel Calypso in Marsalforn, today one of the leading four star hotels on the island.

Being an entrepreneur, he started developing real estate and in 1965 opened the Tower Bakery, Gozo’s first modern bakery. He continued to diversify his business and opened Gozo’s first textile factory. Later on he added to his portfolio an IATA approved travel agency, a professional diving centre, a number of nightclubs and restaurants, all under the umbrella of John Portelli Enterprises Ltd. He has strived to improve accessibility to Gozo.

Between 1968 and 1970, Portelli was a member of the Victoria committee of the Gozo Civic Council, and for several years served as member of the Malta Government Tourist Board and eventually of the National Tourist Organisation. In 2003 was appointed Honorary President for life of the Gozo Tourism Association. Portelli has with determination, strived to ameliorate the economic development of, and the promotion of the tourism sector in, his beloved island of Gozo.


A lifelong member of the Catholic Action (Malta), twice occupied the post of President General of the movement. Her first term was between 1994 and 1998 and in 2006 was appointed for a period of three years, relinquishing her presidency in November 2009. Pullicino chaired the Board responsible for the “Holy Family” Home for the Elderly in Naxxar between 1994 and 2006 which home is run by the Catholic Action. During her last term Pullicino embarked on a renovation and extension project of this home. This ambitious project was completed in 2007 when the extension was officially inaugurated.

Joyce Pullicino commenced her educational career in the early sixties. She moved up the ladder retiring in 2004 after having served as Director of Further Studies and Adult Education between 1995 and 2004. Pullicino was a member of the Board of Governors of the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology; of the Institute of Tourism Studies; and of the European Schools for a number of years. She was also the chairperson of the Commonwealth Scholarships Board and a visiting lecturer on Home Economics at the Faculty of Education at the University of Malta.


Marsa born Donat Spiteri was ordained to the priesthood in 1948. He furthered his studies in Rome and was appointed lecturer of the Holy Scripture and later appointed Professor of Biblical Studies in the Faculty of Theology. Co-founder of the Malta Biblical Society, was also its President, and member of the Commission for the translation of the Bible in Maltese. Co-translated several parts of the Bible. Was instrumental in opening Dar il-Bibbja as a Bible centre.

Author of numerous books on theological issues and biblical themes, he toured various parishes in Malta and Gozo giving Biblical courses. In addition to his academic work he also served for several years as a parish priest in Marsa and San Gwann where he was instrumental in the construction of a parochial centre St Pius X in Marsa and the restoration of the Sta Margherita Chapel at San Gwann which is now used as a place for adoration.

In 1974 he launched the booklet Kliem il-Hajja, a daily Biblical reading with notes and reflections. After being its editor till 1999, he is now its Director General. This quarterly publication is still very popular today even though over 30 years have passed since the first publication. Over 20,000 booklets are published and distributed in Maltese households every quarter. It is also popular with Maltese emigrants abroad.

Patri Donat, as he is affectionately known, has been instrumental in popularising the Bible.

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