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Nature reserve series: Is-simar

Nature reserve series: Is-simar

Mark Galea Pace

Queen Elizabeth II has recognised Maltese Mark Galea Pace as the Commonwealth Point of Light Winner for arguably one of the most wholesome reasons.

Mark Galea Pace is a fitness instructor and environmental activist, who set out on a solo three-day long boat trip, to clean beaches and raise awareness about marine litter polluting the sea. He was raising money for a local NGO called Nature Trust Malta, who are committed to the conservation of Maltese nature. They promote environmental awareness and manage areas of natural and scientific interest.

While completing the three-day challenge, Mark collected no less than 52 bags and 20 jerry cans full of rubbish, and has since embarked on additional solo clean-ups around the island, inspiring large groups of volunteers in Malta to kayak around the archipelago and gather rubbish from the sea and beaches.

“It gives me great pleasure to recognise Mark Galea Pace’s achievement and commitment to improving the environment for all. His solo, three-day kayaking journey around Malta, collecting over 50 bags of rubbish and raising money for environmental charities demonstrates what an impact one person can have,” said Katherine Ward, the British High Commissioner to Malta.

“That he continues to inspire others to take action in the here and now to save our planet is a testament to his efforts. I am delighted to present this year’s Commonwealth Points of Light award in Malta to someone who is making a real contribution to ensure the world we live in is a better place for all,” she continued.

Mark expressed his respect and admiration for the Queen and commented on how much of an honour receiving this award was. “What better way to use my strength and fitness as an ex-water polo player, than to be able to inspire people to take action and bring about change. Whether alone or with a handful of volunteers, I will remain determined to search and collect, week in week out, as much plastic and fishing debris from our coastline and seas, because marine life does not get a break from the litter we leave behind that threatens their survival,” said Mark.

Photo: Times of Malta

Photo: Times of Malta

What is the Points of Light award?

Points of Light are outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change and having an impact on their community. The UK Points of Light was developed in partnership with the US in 2014. Since then, hundreds of people have been named Points of Light by the Prime Minister.

The Commonwealth Points of Light, on the other hand, is a continuation of the Prime Minister’s programme, with a special series of awards recognising inspirational volunteers throughout the Commonwealth, to coincide with the UK hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London in April 2018, and serving as the Chair-in-office of the Commonwealth between 2018 and 2020. The awards are made by the Queen, as Head of the Commonwealth, to thank inspirational volunteers across the 54 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond.

One volunteer from each of the countries was recognised in the days leading up to CHOGM in April 2018 and following the programme’s success, the Queen decided to continue the work and award one volunteer from every Commonwealth country every week.

What is the Commonwealth?

Photo: Sky News

The Commonwealth is a diverse community of 54 nations, which work together to promote prosperity, peace and democracy. The Heads of Government meeting brings together leaders from all member countries to reaffirm common values, address shared global challenges and agree on how to create a better future for all citizens, especially the younger generations. By sharing such stories of service, the Commonwealth Points of Light awards celebrate inspirational acts of volunteering, to help inspire others to make their own contributions and tackle some of the greatest social challenges of our time.

Congratulations Mark. We hope that your service can serve as an inspiration to all of us to take action. 

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