John's Group founder John Farrugia was honoured by the citizens of Hamrun on May 28 when he was awarded Gieh il-Hamrun in recognition of all the good he has done in his home town.
The town's three band clubs, the Civic Club and both main political party clubs nominated Mr Farrugia, 85, for the award.
The ceremony started with Mass at St Cajetan parish church, concelebrated by the parish priests and chaplains of all the churches and chapels in Hamrun. Hamrun mayor Vincent Bonello, councillors, family and friends attended.
Afterwards Mr Farrugia unveiled a commemorative plaque at the Hamrun council.
Mr Bonello recalled how Mr Farrugia, affectionately known as 'Ganton', married Lucia in 1947 and fathered seven sons and four daughters. Just after finishing school, he was recruited into the armed forces and spent his first years as a store officer with the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute (NAAFI).
At the NAAFI, Mr Farrugia gained experience that generated a sense of entrepreneurship. Coupled with his determination, this paved the way for his first family business venture - a small grocery shop in Villambrosa Street, known by the hamrunizi as 'Ta' Ganton'.
As time went by, Mr Farrugia started a transport business taking people to nearby St Luke's Hospital and to Mtarfa Military Hospital, often free of charge. Soon, Mr Farrugia had developed an excellent reputation for doing business fairly and he was subsequently referred to as the pioneer of the chauffeur-driven service in Malta.
John's Garage evolved into a full transport provider covering weddings, funerals and even securing government transport contracts, with Mr Farrugia becoming a main source of employment for many local families.
This operation developed into a thriving business, which necessitated the expansion of the fleet to integrate top-of-the-range cars.
Mr Bonello said Mr Farrugia will be held in high esteem by the hamrunizi for providing many families with a livelihood and also for making generous donations to philanthropic organisations.
Mr Farrugia said: "It is a great honour for me to receive the Gieh il-Hamrun award and I am deeply grateful to the local community for this recognition."
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