Notte Gozitana kicks off with event at St George’s Basilica

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Notte Gozitana kicks off with event at St George's BasilicaThe very first fringe activity introducing the sixth edition of Lejlet Lapsi – Notte Gozitana 2012, organised by the Ministry for Gozo this weekend, was launched yesterday at the Aula Mgr Giuseppe Farrugia of St George’s Basilica, where the British High Commissioner, Ms Louise Stanton, inaugurated an exhibition marking the sixtieth anniversary since the accession to the throne of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The exhibition contains various letters of correspondence that Gozitan priest Fr Geoffrey G. Attard, a declared Anglophile who hails from St George’s parish, received from Buckingham Palace after having written to various members of the Royal Family. Fr Attard has been corresponding with members of the British Royal Family at least since 1992, when he was fourteen years old. He used to correspond with the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and also with Her Majesty The Queen. He still writes to her at Christmas, Easter and on her birthday on April 21 and on her official birthday on June 2, the anniversary of her coronation.

The commemorative evening started with a short introduction by Joe M. Attard, who introduced Her Excellency Ms Louise Stanton, British High Commissioner for Malta, who honoured the gathering with her graceful presence. Later on, Mgr Dr Joseph Farrugia made a short introduction through which he introduced the affection Fr Attard has for Her Majesty The Queen. Joe M. Attard read a poem in honour of Her Majesty written by the Hamrun poet Dun Frans Camilleri and another one in English.

Later, Fr Attard himself delivered a short speech in which he explained the origins of his admiration for Her Majesty The Queen and the reason behind the exhibition. At the end of the speech, Her Excellency Ms Stanton spoke about the significance of the Queen for her and for the British in a moving address. Then, all those present were asked to leave St Michael’s Hall where they were seated and enter the Aula Mgr Giuseppe Farrugia where the new exhibition was blessed by Mgr Anton Borg, Parish Vicar.

The public were then able to watch a ten-minute video-clip featuring the coronation ceremony which took place at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953.

Ms Stanton was later accompanied by Fr Attard and Mgr Farrugia and those present as she examined some of the letters exhibited. Besides the letters, the exhibition contains also old newspaper cuttings going back to 1953, 1954 and 1967 and featuring several of the Queen’s visits to our islands. Other items of memorabilia, DVDs, pictures of members of the Royal Family and other interesting items related to the British monarchy are also on display. A booklet was published to mark the event, copied of which may be acquired on Saturday night.

Many of the English-speaking residents of Gozo were present; the Reverend Jeff Williams, SSC of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Tas-Sliema, was present together with his wife, as were various other members of the Maltese Anglican community.

The exhibition is being organised through the help of various people; Mr Francesco Pio Attard was in charge of the logistics aspect, while Mr Emanuel Grima of the Office of Culture and Information within the Ministry for Gozo helped in the organisation. St George’s Parish also thanked Mr John Cremona of the same Ministry who provided various tables on which the letters could be put on show for the general public.

The exhibition is open all day until Sunday evening.

Photographs by Joe Attard, Toni Farrugia.

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