Late PN MP Robert Arrigo was among those honoured during this year’s Republic Day ceremony.  

On Tuesday, President George Vella bestowed Arrigo with one of the country's highest forms of recognition, handing his widow Marina the Medal for services to the Republic (Midalja għall-Qadi tar Repubblika).

He was awarded the medal for his lifelong work in the tourism sector, his contribution to sport as Sliema Wanderers president, and his contribution to politics as Sliema mayor and later an MP.

The former mayor and deputy leader of the Nationalist Party died in October after battling cancer. He was 67.  

He was among a long list of politicians, academics and philanthropists to receive recognition during the ceremony that is held every year at the President’s Palace in Valletta. 

Every year, the president honours those who “distinguish themselves in different fields of endeavour” by appointing them to the National Order of Merit, or the Xirka Gieh ir-Repubblika, or by awarding them the Midalja ghal Qlubija or the Midalja għall-Qadi tar Repubblika

Vella appointed seven members to the National Order of Merit, the republic's highest form of recognition which has four ranks. The highest form is Companion of Honour, followed by Companion, Officer and Member. 

Former MPs and minister Dolores Cristina and Alex Sceberras Trigona were made Companions of the National Order of Merit. Cristina is the first woman to receive that honour. 

Ten others were awarded the Midalja ghall-Qadi tar Repubblika

The awards come on the back of proposals by a nominations committee and on the advice of the prime minister.

Who was honoured this year? 

National Order of Merit

Companion of the National Order of Merit

Dolores Cristina

President George Vella bestows the medal for Companion for the National Order of Merit on former minister Dolores Cristina.President George Vella bestows the medal for Companion for the National Order of Merit on former minister Dolores Cristina.

She was born in Senglea in 1949. She is a former MP who served in several ministerial positions under Nationalist governments.

Cristina graduated from the RUM (Royal University of Malta) with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree and held teaching posts in History and English at secondary and post-secondary levels.

Between 1991 and 1995, she held the post of President of the National Council of Women, with a strong involvement in the voluntary sector. She was also President of the Women’s Section and President of the Administrative Council of the Nationalist Party.

In 1996, she contested the General Election unsuccessfully and in 1998 briefly served as Swieqi mayor until she was elected to parliament in the same year from the 10th District.

During the legislature, she occupied the post of Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. She was re-elected to Parliament from the 9th District in the 2003 general election and became parliamentary secretary within the social policy ministry. In 2004, she was appointed minister for family and social solidarity. In 2008, elected from both the 9th and 10th districts, Cristina was appointed education minister.

In 2013, she was appointed Acting President, a post she occupied until 2022.

Alex Sceberras Trigona

Alex Sceberras TrigonaAlex Sceberras Trigona

A former Labour MP and served as foreign minister between 1981 and 1987. He was also a special envoy of prime ministers Dom Mintoff, Joseph Muscat and Robert Abela.

He is a Rhodes Scholar, practices law as a notary and is Malta’s Ambassador to the World Trade Organization.

He is an arbiter on the International Commercial Arbitration Centre, Scientific Council member of the European Foundation for Progressive Studies (FEPS); a senior fellow and co-founder of DiploFoundation; a senior visiting lecturer in diplomacy at the University of Malta and at the Mediterranean Academy for Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC).

As foreign minister, he lobbied for, won and managed Malta’s first-ever term (1983-1984) on the United Nations Security Council. He negotiated Malta's neutrality agreements with Italy, France, Libya, Algeria, the Soviet Union and the United States of America.

Officer of the National Order of Merit

Carmel Borg

Carmel BorgCarmel Borg

An associate professor in the Department of Education Studies, at the Faculty of Education, University of Malta.

Borg is a former Head of the department and ex-Dean of the Faculty of Education. He lectures in the sociology of education, curriculum theory, development and design; critical pedagogy; adult education for community development; and parental involvement in education.

He is an academic with a strong presence in the public sphere, both locally and internationally.

His professional work and his social activism focus on the intersection of education, democracy and social justice.

His three-decade struggle for equity in education has reached all corners of the world, with

frequent keynote speeches, honorary visiting professorships, a string of collaborative research projects, and community-based initiatives.

Michael Camilleri

Prof. Michael CamilleriProf. Michael Camilleri

A physician and scientist who has pioneered mechanistic studies of gastrointestinal functions in health and disease in human subjects during his entire career.

Camilleri was recently ranked by Experts Cape News as the best in the world in gastrointestinal motility, based on his impact on the field. He is currently a consultant and holds an endowed chair as a Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Physiology at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, USA.

Salvina Zrinzo

Salvina ZrinzoSalvina Zrinzo

A radiologist who was instrumental in setting up the Malta National Breast Screening Programme, which has been in place since 2009.

Born in Gozo in 1962, she studied medicine at the University of Malta and, between 1987 and 1994 obtained her training in general and breast radiology at Stadtklinikum Nürnberg in Germany.

She returned to Malta in 1994 and started working as a radiologist at St Luke’s Hospital. She was appointed consultant radiologist in 1999 and was Chairperson of the Medical Imaging Department at Mater Dei Hospital between 2011 and 2018.

Her main clinical interest has always been breast imaging, including mammography, ultrasound, MRI as well as image-guided biopsies and localisations.

She is the first radiologist in Malta who obtained the EDBI diploma (the European specialist Diploma in Breast Imaging) and is part of the team who runs the breast screening and symptomatic breast services in Malta.

Member of the National Order of Merit

Chev. Alfred Camilleri Cauchi 

Alfred Camilleri CauchiAlfred Camilleri Cauchi

An artist and sculptor of national monuments. He is renowned for his Holy Week sculptures, many of which adorn parishes across the country. 

He was born in 1943 in Victoria, Gozo. He received his education at St Edward’s College and the Malta School of Art. Camilleri Cauchi then furthered his studies at the College of Arts in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is the author of several papers-mâché, bronze, wood, limestone and marble masterpieces found in Malta and around the globe.

Various local parish churches boast of his works, including Good Friday statues and altar or ceiling decorations. He is the author of many titular statues, mainly Christ the King, Saint Mary’s Queenship, Saint Augustine and Saint George Preca.

In 1998, he was awarded the Academic Knight of Honour by Italy’s International Academic Order Greci Marino. In 2006, the same Order awarded him the title of Honorary National Advisor.

Mro Archibald Mizzi

Archibald MizziArchibald Mizzi

Mizzi is a band conductor and musician who composed popular march 'The King'. 

'The King' served as the theme tune to Italian TV series Ispettore Montalbano and also featured in Italian film Dopo Mezzanotte. 

The Qormi-born Mizzi also served as the principal bassoonist of the Manoel Theatre Orchestra for over 40 years. 

Mizzi started his first musical lessons on the E-flat clarinet at St George’s Band Club and pursued piano lessons with the renowned Mrs Bice Bisazza. In 1970, he took on learning the Bassoon under the auspices of Mro Joseph Sammut.

‘The King’ remains one of Mizzi’s trademarks, putting Malta on the international platform. 

His international exposure made him play under the baton of famous conductors such as Mro Michael Laus, Mro Brian Schembri, Mro Wayne Marshall, Mro Peter Stark, Mro Charles Camilleri, Mro Olivier Monroe among others.

Midalja Għall-Qadi Tar-Repubblika

Anthony Abela Medici 

Anthony Abela MediciAnthony Abela Medici

An expert in the field of forensics. Abela Medici spent 30 years working in the police’s forensic laboratory on all major cases, including, murders, the Egyptair Hijack in 1985 and the recovery of the Caravaggio in 1987.

In 1992, he was appointed by the Archbishop of Malta to carry out the exhumation of Blessed Adeodata Pisani and the same process was carried for Frenċ tal-Għarb in 1997 for the Diocese of Gozo.

In 2016, Abela Medici was elected to serve on the Committee of Experts for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, by the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

From 2018 to 2021, he held the post of Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations.

Robert Arrigo (Posthumous)

Marina Arrigo receives the award from President Vella on behalf of her late husband.Marina Arrigo receives the award from President Vella on behalf of her late husband.

A leading Maltese tourism operator and politician who served as MP from 2003 until his death in 2022. Between 2017 and 2022, he was appointed as deputy leader of the Nationalist Party.

In 1994, he was elected as the first mayor of Sliema.

Arrigo was also a prominent businessman and a pioneer within the travel and tourism industry. He spearheaded his company, Robert Arrigo & Sons Limited, by opening new source markets for incoming tourism to Malta and Gozo.

Arrigo was also involved in sports management where he was elected chairperson of Gżira United and Sliema Wanderers football clubs and served as Vice-President of Neptunes Waterpolo Club.

Anna Bonanno 

Anna BonannoAnna Bonanno

A renowned TV journalist and a broadcaster with the Public Broadcasting Services for more than 30 years.

She became a pioneer in the field of television and news anchoring at that time dominated by men.

She also became the first Maltese female correspondent abroad, sending her first reportages from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for the Commonwealth Heads of States Meeting, Tiananmen Square in China for the official visit of Malta’s Head of State, and Brussels when Malta formally submitted its application to join the European Union. 

Saviour F Borg (Posthumous)

A relative accepts the award on behalf of the late Saviour Borg. Photo: DOI/Clifton FenechA relative accepts the award on behalf of the late Saviour Borg. Photo: DOI/Clifton Fenech

A career diplomat who first joined Malta's civil service in the 1960s, Borg would go on to represent Malta in multiple posts and international organisations, rising to the rank of ambassador and serving as Malta's Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2007 to 2012. 

Borg also served as chairman of the UN Sanctions Monitoring Board. 

In 1994, he was appointed as the first director of the newly created multilateral affairs department. From 1978 to 1982, he served as first secretary and deputy permanent representative of Malta to the United Nations Office in Geneva, and from 1983 to 1987 to the UN in New York.

Simone Borg

Simone BorgSimone Borg

Malta’s Ambassador for Climate Action and chairs the National Climate Action Board.

Borg is a resident academic at the University of Malta, a visiting lecturer at the IMO International Maritime Law Institute and has lectured at various universities abroad. She specialises in international law and policy relating to climate, ocean governance and biodiversity conservation.

She chaired the Steering Committee for Malta’s National Post-COVID Strategy and occupied various other senior roles at the governmental level. She was the Occupational Health and Safety Authority’s first chairperson.

Antonio Briguglio

Antonio BriguglioAntonio Briguglio

A football referee who served on the FIFA/UEFA panel of referees for 16 years.

Briguglio started his refereeing career in 1961 and also attained a UEFA ‘C’ licence as a football coach.  He attended several courses on advanced refereeing instruction and leadership organised by UEFA, the FA, FIGC and the Olympic Committee of Germany.

He held various administrative positions including that of the president of the Malta Football Referees Association, and member of the MFA Referees’ Board between 1985 and 1987.

In the early 1980s he founded and was the first president of the Federazzjoni Klabbs tal-Boċċi, where he compiled the statute and competition rules.

He also held various positions in the Malta Amateur Athletics Association and at the Malta Table Tennis Association.

Fr John Caruana (Posthumous)

A relative accepts the award on behalf of the late Fr Caruana.A relative accepts the award on behalf of the late Fr Caruana.

A priest who moved to Brazil for missionary work in 1984 after almost two decades serving the St Julian's parish. Fr Caruana died in June.   

He was already considered a social activist during his 17-year experience as a priest at the St Julian’s parish church.

Caruana left a legacy of relevant work with Basic Ecclesial Communities, social pastoralists and his advocacy for agricultural reforms.

Karl Farrugia 

Karl Farrugia. Photo: DOI/Clifton FenechKarl Farrugia. Photo: DOI/Clifton Fenech

Farrugia leads the Central Procurement & Supplies Unit as its CEO. Apart from securing the supply of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, he is also responsible for the Pharmacy of Your Choice scheme and the National Blood Transfusion Centre. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Farrugia was also appointed as Malta's representative on the EU Joint Procurement Strategic Action Group and played a key role in ensuring the country secured enough vaccines to quickly inoculate the entire population.

Farrugia joined the health ministry as a biomedical engineer in 2001, where he was responsible for the procurement and commissioning of medical equipment at Mater Dei Hospital. He furthered his studies and in 2003 obtained a Master’s Degree in Engineering.

In 2007, he was appointed director for hospital materials management and logistics. He was selected as CEO of what is today known as the Central Procurement and Supplies Unit in 2011

Louis Fsadni 

Louis FsadniLouis Fsadni

Fsadni, a career civil servant who also served on the electoral commission for many years, was the driving force behind the introduction of electronic vote counting at national elections, which was introduced for the first time in 2019. 

He proposed the idea of e-counting to the Gonzi Commission in 1994 and again to a Parliamentary Select Committee in 2008. It was first implemented during the 2019 MEP election. 

Prior to that reform, he played a major role in managing and organising vote counting systems during national elections, serving as senior manager of the counting hall for nine general elections, four referenda, four European Parliament elections, 27 calls of Local Councils’ elections, numerous casual elections and other minor ones. 

Brother Edward Galea

Brother Edward Galea. Photo: DOI/Clifton FenechBrother Edward Galea. Photo: DOI/Clifton Fenech

Brother Edward is the longest-serving brother at De La Salle College, having served there for more than 70 years.

He moved to France in 1939, just as World War II was breaking out. He stayed in France and was given the religious name of Tiburce Marie. When he returned to Malta in 1945, he started being called Edward.

In 1940, he started his novitiate at Pibrac, near Toulouse and in 1942, he moved to St Maurice L’Exil where he was given a special identity card allowing him restricted movement.

He and the other Maltese Brothers were almost discovered by the Nazis due to their British passports and they decided to flee from St Maurice L’Exil. Edward headed to the Immaculate Conception Boarding School in Bezier where he started his first teaching practice in an elementary class.

At the end of August 1944, since much of France had been liberated, he returned to St Maurice L’Exil to finish his studies. Eight months later, when the war was over, they were all sent back to Malta. Since then, Brother Edward has been teaching and helping in the administration at De La Salle College for over 70 years.

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