The Strickland Foundation yesterday celebrated its 25th anniversary with a reception at Villa Parisio in Lija, where the foundation's founder, Mabel Strickland, lived from 1943 until her death in 1988.

Miss Strickland set up the foundation in 1979 and on her death it became the beneficiary of the majority shareholding in Allied Newspapers Ltd, publisher of The Times and The Sunday Times.

President Emeritus Guido de Marco, who is the chairman of the foundation, said that for the past 25 years the foundation had been doing its best to live up to its aims.

The foundation seeks to foster the national interests of Malta and promote democratic principles, the observance of human rights and the exercise of a free press.

Another of its aims is to uphold the European character of Malta and support the country's presence in the Commonwealth.

It assists employees and former employees of Allied Newspapers Ltd and their families, and helps improve the standard of local journalism and the preservation of its freedom and independence.

Prof. de Marco said that apart from holding regular meetings with ambassadors serving in Malta, the foundation assists journalism students and helps create activities connected with journalism, human rights and related fields.

Several initiatives were in the pipeline, he said, including bringing together various personalities from the Mediterranean sphere to commence a dialogue between them.

Villa Parisio, which is being kept as a shrine to Miss Strickland, is almost exactly the same as it was when she died at the age of 89. It is the foundation's seat, and the council - made up of Prof. de Marco, Ronald Agius, Frank Bonello and Joseph M. Ganado - meets on a regular basis to discuss activities organised by the foundation.

A bust of Miss Strickland was recently made, and it now has a place of honour in one of the grand rooms of the house.

Present for the reception, mingling with the other guests, were two women who worked closely with Miss Strickland - Connie Baldacchino and Heidi Debono. Ms Baldachino still sees to the upkeep of the house.

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