Purchena has lived this Sunday morning an intense day that will remain in the memory with the celebration of the ‘Day of the Province’. In an emotional and solemn ceremony, which took place in the Abén Humeya Moorish Games Pavilion, the Provincial Council of Almería has delivered its highest distinctions with which it recognises the people and entities whose work improves the quality of life of all the people of Almería and the 103 municipalities and the smaller local entity.
This year the celebration has been double because the Medals of the Province of 2020 and 2021 have been awarded. The Gold Medals went to the province’s hospitals and the journalist José Luis Martínez; the Social Medals went to the Telephone of Hope and the Official College of Pharmacists of Almería; the Culture Medals went to the Fondón Flamenco Festival and the Auto Sacramental de los Reyes Magos; and the Sports Medals went to URA Rugby Almería and the Almería Basketball Club.
The ceremony, hosted by the journalist Alfredo Casas and enlivened by the quartet Diesis, was presided over by the Mayor of the municipality, Juan Miguel Tortosa and the President of the Provincial Council, Javier Aureliano García, accompanied by the municipal and provincial corporations, as well as civil and military authorities and representatives of Almeria society who wanted to support the honorees in this institutional act.
The President of the Provincial Council thanked all those present and shared his “pride” in presenting the medals “in person, as we were unable to do so last year, commemorating it as all the award winners, your friends and family deserve, to thank you for everything you do for this province”.
His first words were for Purchena and the Almanzora, and he stated that “this region brings together in its 27 municipalities the values of Almeria. The people of the Almanzora have grown by getting up stronger after every fall, overcoming any adversity. This is the spirit of Almeria, the spirit of self-improvement and hard work. Nobody has given us anything for free and in this beautiful Purchena they know a lot about that”.
Likewise, Javier A. García praised and listed some of the main achievements of the distinguished individuals and institutions whom he defined as “an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the whole of society, an example of effort, perseverance and passion in the most difficult situations. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that our land is full of unsung heroes who know how to do their best to help others”.
Finally, the president stressed the Diputación’s commitment to “continue working tirelessly and with enthusiasm to defend everything that distinguishes us: our traditions, customs, history, roots… To equalise opportunities, to fix the population, to support entrepreneurship and those who make us grow and, above all, to help the most vulnerable so that no one is left behind. That is the motivation that drives us to be better every day. Each Almerian is the hero of his own story, let’s continue writing it together to conquer the future”.
The Mayor of Purchena emphasised Almería as a land of contrasts, highlighting the important work of the Provincial Council to combat the population imbalance between the interior and the coast and of the town councils as agents for the development of the municipalities. “I want to highlight the role of the Diputación, which provides us with the necessary resources to modernise our towns, assists us technically, legally and economically, which cooperates to promote employment and social development, which manages our taxes, cares for the elderly through the SSCC and promotes culture and sport. All of these functions complement the municipal competences to combat demographic decline”.
Sports Medal 2020: Unión Rugby Almería
In a short time, the union of all the clubs has worked the miracle of rugby in the province through the URA, a sport that has a noble code of honour that perfectly represents the values of the province of Almería: loyalty, respect, honour, effort, self-improvement…, with an outstanding social role in favour of inclusion through the URA Clan project.
The president of URA Rugby Almería, Miguel Palanca, recounted the history of a “unique” project with very complicated beginnings and expressed his gratitude for a distinction that represents the culmination of a first Cycle of the Club. “We have a social and transversal project that transcends sport and that has the vocation to complement the education of our children based on equality, respect, companionship and inclusion. The collaboration with the Provincial Council has been full and seamless, culminating with the rugby field at the Álvarez de Sotomayor base”.
Sports Medal 2021: Almería Basketball Club
“We compete by training, we train by competing”, is the motto that represents the principles and philosophy of Club Baloncesto Almería, fulfilling an excellent socio-sporting function with the promotion of basketball and sport in general as a healthy lifestyle habit in the province throughout its history, since it was founded in 1960.
The former president of Club Baloncesto Almería, Francisco Rueda Vázquez, said that this distinction shows that all the effort made over the years has been rewarded. “Our club, apart from the sporting and training aspect, has a clear social vocation. It is a club that has relied on society and has wanted to grow with it. This award is an incentive to move forward and take on new challenges”.
Social Medal 2020: The Telephone of Hope
Through the telephone we can find a friendly voice that listens to us, understands us and gives us warmth in the most difficult moments. This is the work that the Telephone of Hope has been doing in our province for more than 20 years. There is always someone on the other side, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ready to listen on 950 26 99 99.
Its president, María Isabel Orland, was thrilled to receive this recognition. “The Telephone of Hope is celebrating its 50th anniversary with intense activity to give visibility to our work. In the pandemic, active listening has been put in value, it has imposed on us a new life with interference of feelings of insecurity and fears. Our volunteers offer understanding and a commitment to help provided free of charge, anonymously and in a personalised way. A real lifesaver”.
Medalla de lo Social 2021: Colegio Oficial de Farmacéuticos de Almería (Official College of Pharmacists of Almería)
In the field of public health, pharmacies and pharmacists carry out a work close to citizens that is essential for their health. For this reason, the Provincial Corporation wanted to recognise and thank the work of pharmacists in Almeria, especially this past year, for becoming other heroes of the pandemic, especially in rural areas.
The president of the Official College of Pharmacists of Almeria, Gema Martínez Soler, thanked all the members of the College for this recognition. “Thanks to all the pharmacists in the province, this medal is for them. My admiration for their work and dedication during the pandemic. We are health workers, that’s a lot; we are pharmacists, that’s something very big. We want to continue to be at the side of patients, we were, are and will always be on duty”.
Medal of Culture 2020: Fondón Flamenco Festival
Born in the atmosphere of the patron saint festivities, the Fondón Flamenco Festival has become, on its own merits, one of the most important flamenco events in Spain. José Antonio Alemán’s personality and the commitment of the Town Council of Fondón and the Diputación de Almería have contributed to its continuity and quality, in a valuable example of institutional collaboration.
The medal was collected by the organiser of the festival, José Antonio López Alemán, and the Mayor of Fondón, Valentín Martín. Alemán addressed the audience, stressing that “flamenco is an inseparable part of what is now called the Spain brand. It has to be spread, it has to reach schools and universities. Thanks to the Diputación for making flamenco a truth and a reason. Thanks to all the artists for having participated in our festival. As the copla por soleá says, anyone who says “ay” is because it hurts and flamenco hurts me a lot”.
Medal of Culture 2021: Auto Sacramental de los Reyes Magos of Los Gallardos
The Auto Sacramental de los Reyes Magos de Los Gallardos is one of the most deeply rooted traditions in the Levante Almeriense, even before the war. It was revived in 1987 and has been performed uninterruptedly ever since. In September of this year, the Junta de Andalucía requested its declaration of Tourist Interest.
The medal has been collected by the organiser of the Auto, José Ramón París Piñero, and the mayor of Los Gallardos, Francisco Miguel Reyes. The organiser of the Auto was grateful for this award and emphasised that it is increasingly recognised and valued both inside and outside the province. “Thanks to my fellow Gallardos citizens who every year collaborate selflessly in its development: pages, centurions, children and choir. I would like to invite the people of Almeria to enjoy our great day”.
Gold Medal of the Province 2020: Hospitals of the Province of Almeria
This is the highest honour under the Provincial Institution’s Honours and Distinctions regulations and with it in 2020, marked by the pandemic, the Provincial Council wished to recognise the work of all the hospitals in the province of Almeria: Hospital HLA Mediterráneo, Vithas Virgen del Mar, Hospital La Inmaculada, Hospital del Poniente and Hospital Universitario de Torrecárdenas.
The five hospital managers received the recognition and, on behalf of all of them, as manager of the largest public hospital in the province, Manuel Vida, manager of the Hospital Universitario Torrecárdenas, spoke on behalf of all of them. “The pandemic has further strengthened the ties between hospitals. I speak with the conviction that the five hospitals work together, as if they were a single team. Their only voice is to provide the best care for the people of Almeria. From the first moment of the pandemic, under the guidelines of our delegate, we made it clear that there were patients from Almeria, neither from the public nor the private sector. We shared patients in a brilliant and coordinated way”.
After recounting the difficulties and hard times of the pandemic, it was time to talk about the good times we had: “We have assisted neighbouring provinces with material, we have discharged patients and we have attended to patients from other communities. It will go down in history in terms of mortality, vaccinations and the work of health professionals, but also for the support of society for the health sector”:
Gold Medal of the Province 2021: José Luis Martínez García
Journalist, writer, teacher, businessman: the professional career of José Luis Martínez García is extensive and shows us a person committed to the social work of information. José Luis is an institution of communication and journalistic enterprise in Spain. His business vocation brought him closer to our province when he acquired La Voz de Almería in 1984, a communications group that was later expanded with the Cadena SER stations.
José Luis Martínez emphasised his deep identification with the province of Almería and expressed his admiration because “I know of no other place that has turned remoteness into a reason for improvement”. He also highlighted the value of consensus “for civic education and economic development” of the territories and the role of “provincial councils and town councils as the structures that offer the greatest stability to the state”.
He also recalled how important it was on a personal and professional level to be able to open the head office of La Voz de Almería in 1984 and to fulfil the commitment that all the investments of the business group would be made in Almería: “Continuing to live here is allowing me to witness transforming and exciting events such as knowing that there are 40 children in the Instinción school, or seeing inclusive schools in the counties, seeing the Provincial Council buy the Cortijo del Fraile or the King presenting an award to Paco Martínez Cosentino”.