Heritage Malta on Monday paid tribute to one of its founding fathers, Dr Mario Tabone, who died aged 81.

Incredibly well-read and extensively cultured, Tabone chaired the national agency from 2003 to 2008, it said in a statement.

"During his tenure, Heritage Malta embarked on the first major infrastructural projects which put cultural heritage assets on a sound footing and which set the tune for years to come, and started a string of major local and international exhibitions.

A visionary, he was always on the forefront and very close to members of staff, and will be sorely missed."

A renowned ophthalmologist Tabone will be laid to rest on Wednesday.

Flags at all museums and sites managed by the national agency will fly at half-mast as a sign of respect.

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