A few days before Christmas, Lovin Malta asked its readers to vote for the most inspiring Maltese personality from 2016. The results are now in and it seems that the public figures who most made an impact in the past twelve months where the ones who overcame personal hardships and encouraged others to do the same with strength, power and most of all – positivity.
The second obvious trend is a public backing of the anti-establishment personalities. It’s not surprising (think Brexit and Trump) that many Maltese people are also rallying for the personalities who are not afraid to strike against the perceived evils prevalent in today’s society.
So here we go – a countdown of the top ten inspirational Maltese personalities of 2016.
10. Oz & Jay
Local radio power couple
Coming in at number 10, this radio duo have been entertaining us for years and people are repaying them by showing some big love. Here’s to remembering that starting off your day with a good laugh is a damn great thing, and two guys dedicating their career to making sure it happens is pretty inspiring.
9. Andre Schembri
Footballer extraordinaire and anti-establishment rebel
Andre Schembri definitely shook things up this year in Malta’s football scene. He took the Malta Football Association to town in an honest, and pretty brutal, interview after one of the team’s games. With Malta’s football scene looking more dire than ever, people are grateful for someone who is not afraid to tell it like it is.
8. Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister of Malta
Malta’s Prime Minister has had an eventful year to say the least. We’re guessing people showed their love for some of the positive initiatives his government has implemented. He certainly must have scored some points after last week’s hijacking saga.
7. Robert Louis Fenech
Public space advocate / vigilante and Manoel Island ‘trespasser’
Fenech joined dozens of people in breaking into Manoel Island this summer and made a lot of us sit up in our seats. “Imagine you give your house keys to a workman to do some renovation, and that workman proceeds to change the lock. When you return, you realise you cannot enter your own house. This is, essentially, what happened in Manoel Island,” he wrote in his tell-all account for Lovin Malta. Well, people were definitely on board.
6. Simon Busuttil
Leader of the Opposition
In an interview with Lovin Malta earlier this year, the Leader of the Opposition spoke about the Dubai-ification of Malta, and how he plans to put a stop to it if his party were to be elected. With the amount of pubic attention the issue of over-development has got this year, perhaps this is a big part of why he got the votes on our list.
5. Daphne Caruana Galizia
Journalist and and Malta’s answer to wikileaks
This year Caruana Galizia was named as one of Politico’s top influencers for 2017. As divisive as her content may be, she has certainly made a name for herself for calling out people in power for anything she deems less than kosher, and the Maltese public are applauding her for that.
4. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca
President of Malta
After her celebrated Republic Day speech where she basically made a point-by-point list of everything that’s enraged and disturbed the Maltese public this year, our President rocketed to the front of the popularity game. Yesterday’s L-Istrina record, will undoubtedly cement her position as one of the most inspirational Maltese people of the year.
3. Charlene Mercieca
Breast cancer survivor and cancer awareness activist
Mercieca shook Malta up when five weeks after her breast cancer operation earlier this year, she published a post-surgery picture on Facebook. The accompanying caption to the photo sees Mercieca going boldly against all the cliches associated with cancer survivors, refusing to give in to self-pity and pessimism. Inspirational? Well, Malta certainly thinks so!
2. Bjorn Formosa
ALS awareness activist and hopeless romantic
Formosa is extremely active in the public eye, working to spread awareness about ALS – a Motor Neurone Disease which he himself has been diagnosed with. He recently got married, and together with his wife announced on Facebook that they would be donating all their wedding gifts to support the national charity ALS Malta, which he founded to help those suffering from a Motor Neurone Disease.
Shortly after their wedding public outcry on Facebook has ensued when a string of cruel jokes were made in poor taste after Formosa announced that his condition had worsened. But the activist wowed the public once again when just two days after his wedding and the ‘joke’ saga, he found time to give the best response ever to the Facebook haters:
“I believe in freedom of expression and I’m not here to criticize or attack a few lads who tried guessing unsuccessfully my opening dance,” he said. “In light of recent ‘hurtful’ Facebook messages, I welcome them as free publicity to continue promoting our ALS cause!”
Inspiration boxed: ticked.
Cancer survivor who lost his sight – an amazing public motivator
The Maltese public have voted Samuel their number one most inspirational Maltese personality of 2016. This young boy gave a mega-inspirational interview this year, describing how he lost his sight in one eye when he was five years old due to cancer, and then relapsed and lost his sight in his other eye.
Samuel’s encouraging words and positive demeanour were a source of inspiration for thousands of Lovin Malta readers. His wit, humour and effervescent character forced anyone listening to abandon their own self-pity and admire his optimistic approach to life.
“I don’t just see black like most people think. My imagination makes an image of what’s around me. I have no limit. If someone says this room is one colour, I can imagine it in every colour I want. I call it mind modelling.”
Well Samuel, you’ve modelled more than a few minds around Malta. Thank you for being our biggest inspiration in 2016!