The People Who Shaped Malta In 2017
From inspiring stories to painful tragedies
As an eventful 2017 nears the end, we remember some of the personalities who shaped the year. Lovin Malta reached out to some of the island's biggest names to get their own nominations. Feel free to submit your own at the end of the article and we'll use the nominations as the People's Choice list of 2017.
Even if she had not been murdered in a car bomb last October, Caruana Galizia would have already earned her place as one of Malta's biggest personalities thanks to her impactful and fearless reporting in the run up to this year's election. Her brutal silencing shook the nation and sent ripples the world over. Her legacy will continue to live in.
Nominated by Michael Briguglio, Marlene Farrugia and Roberta Metsola
When the Ice Bucket Challenge became a global phenomenon, Malta was largely unaware of this young ALS sufferer who would later give a face to the illness. Bjorn Formosa's resilience has since inspired an entire nation and resulted in some amazing contributions, such as a dedicated home for ALS patients opened earlier this year.
Nominated by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Jerome Frendo succumbed to cancer earlier this year after dealing with three successive bouts of the disease. The 20-year-old inspired Malta with his own heartbreaking love story as his girlfriend also battled cancer. The young man became a leading promoter for the charity Puttinu Cares.
Nominated by Opposition leader Adrian Delia
4. Jake Vella
This seven-year-old reached millions worldwide when Lovin Malta told the story of his rare illness which sees him gaining weight rapidly despite doing everything to stay healthy. Jake Vella does triathlons to stay alive, serving as an inspiration to all those who find excuses not to keep fit.
Nominated by Ben Camille
The Maltese tenor is largely believed to be our island's best export. This year was the 20th edition of his annual concert and he brought over none other than Andrea Bocelli to make things extra special. Calleja also fronts the Joseph Calleja BoV Foundation which hands out serious opportunities to promising young artists including this year's Charles Buttigieg, an 18-year-old baritone.
Nominated by Emma Muscat
Usually mistake for 'that guy from Criminal Minds', Mark Laurence Zammit's real claim to fame is being Peppi's co-host on the most popular show on Maltese television, Xarabank. He's also a lovable and energetic ball of fun who's up for anything (even teleshopping dildos on our own Lovin Live). This year he also came out as a virgin who's got a real thing for Valentina Rossi. And guess who nominated him for his truly "quirky character"...
Nominated by Valentina Rossi
Malta's success story in fashion, these guys have been heating up catwalks all over the world with beautiful Maltese-inspired clothing. Top celebrities are choosing Charles & Ron for their red carpet appearances, placing Malta firmly on the fashion map.
Nominated by Ira Losco
8. Ben Camille
Ben Camille was already a ubiquitous face on Maltese TV but this year saw him take his celebrity status to a new level with a reality show on national television. The show became a major topic of conversation and Ben continued to use his profile to spread awareness around issues like bullying. As his co-star mother (who nominated him) put it: "The boy has a charm & looks but above all, a very good soul!"
Nominated by Carina
CEO and Vice Chairperson of Puttinu Cares respectively, Rennie and Angele are among Malta's most dedicated supporters of children battling cancer. Their efforts to raise the spirits of patients and their families, as well as provide accommodation and other financial support have earned them their place on this list.
Nominated by Miriam Dalli
Lovin Malta's breakout star, Chucky this year started hosting his own show Lovin Live, the island's first weekly Facebook live show. Chucky also became a familiar face on Maltese television with regular appearances on Benjamin, Xarabank and more recently L-Istrina. Chucky was also named as one of Malta's outstanding young people by JCI Malta for his impactful reporting on Lovin Malta.
Nominated by Seb Tanti Burlo and Mark Laurence Zammit
11. Bonus: Katriel Zahra
With impressive eloquence and wise beyond his years, Katriel Zahra was the perfect antidote for Malta after a year of political bitterness and animosity. His personal story of forgiveness against his bullies served as the main platform for this year's annual L-Istrina telethon which raised a record €6 million to help other families battling illness.
Nominated by Lovin Malta