Documents containing the official grant of the George Cross to Malta restored

The George Cross was awarded to Malta by King George VI in 1942 and is the only one to have been awarded to a country

A volume of documents containing the official grant of the George Cross to Malta has been restored and will be soon be put on display for the public through a collaboration between the Justice Ministry, Din l-Art Ħelwa and the Notarial Archives Foundation.

The volume contains the enrolment of the George Cross Act drawn by the Chief Notary to Government, Carmelo Farrugia.

“This volume carries with it intrinsic historical significance, depicting our country’s history and legacy”, said Minister for Culture, Owen Bonnici during a visit to the Notarial Archives.

Bonnici added that the George Cross is an integral part of Malta’s identity and that it played an important role in shaping the country.

“Through this initiative, we are helping to preserve this historic volume for future generations. Thanks to a sound culture strategy, we aim to bring our country’s heritage to the forefront in a way that it’s more accessible to our society, especially during a time in which we are seeing a steady increase of interest garnered within the sector,” he said.

Malta is the only country to have ever received the George Cross. It was awarded to Malta by King George VI on 15 April 1942.

"To honour her brave people I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta, to bear witness to a heroism and a devotion that will long be famous in history," read the governor's message to the island.

By that point in the war the Maltese population had undergone a complete disruption of everyday life, having faced food shortages and been the target of incessant bombings by the Axis powers.

The deed was published in the Hall of St Michael and St George at the Governor’s Palace, Valletta in the presence of Monsignor Michael Gonzi, Metropolitan Archbishop of Malta, on 7 February 1947.

The George Cross, which was instituted in 1940 during the height of the London blitz, is the second highest award within the United Kingdom honours system. It awards the acts of the greatest heroism, along with displays of immense courage in circumstances of extreme danger.

The document's conservation treatment was carried out under the supervision of Head of Conservation Theresa Zammit Lupi and the works were carried out by paper conservator Alejandra Molano Contreras, who conducted various interventions, including surface cleaning, removal of old repairs, spine repair, and cover repair.

A protective enclosure has also been created to house the volume safely and securely - with all treatments made to the volume carried out using the highest quality grade conservation materials and following current and international conservation practice and work ethic.

The project was a collaboration between  Din l-Art Ħelwa, whose members raised some €2,000 for the preservation of the volume, and the Notarial Archives Foundation which has contributed towards the endeavour of preserving Maltese national paper heritage and is hoped to lead to further collaborations.

The volume also contains other notarial deeds, such as sales of land, reconstruction of damaged accommodation and the supply of provisions and fuel, which further preserve aspects of the past of Malta and the culture of its population.

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