Feature

Commitment

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Commitment… An agreement or pledge to do something in the future. (Dictionary definition).

Generally, we tend to think of commitment as being committed to your relationship or your career or to results you are looking to achieve in one or more areas of life. We might commit to our families, our communities. People commit to getting out of debt or getting into good health, good physical shape… and so on. But, how about committing to ourselves? I mean truly committing to becoming who you really are. Choosing to be who you really are. Engaging with life as your true, authentic self. 

The truth is that most people have no idea who they really are. They know certain things about themselves. They may know their favourite colours, their favourite food… what they want to achieve in five or ten years’ time. They may know where they live and who they are married to … the names of their children and how to be a good parent. But do you know who you are?  

We are taught, from an early age, to identify ourselves from the outside in. Society teaches us that we are the job, the house, the holiday, the car when, in fact, these things are the mere manifestation of our external experience. As the spiritual beings that we are, having a material experience, there needs to be a balance. The body and the physical world need to be looked after and cared for in order that we have the material comforts and resources necessary for the soul to fulfil its purpose during its time inhabiting the body. The soul has a mission. The purpose is already there, like a seed waiting in the depths of your heart for you to go within and honour it. 

The big question is… how? And if I mention ‘meditation’ at this point there is likely to be a universal groan and utterings of “oh no!” So maybe revisiting what we mean by meditation is appropriate at this juncture. 

The word ‘meditation’ is derived from the latin verb – meditari, as follows:

Verb · to think or reflect upon, consider, contemplate, ponder, meditate (upon); intend · plan, contrive, devise · 

Meditation is simply about taking some time to still the mind and allow the thoughts to drift. Of course, with practice, this can develop into a lifelong daily habit… and a good one too… but for the initial stages I believe in keeping things simple and manageable.  

I have found over many years of working on and teaching personal and spiritual development that the most powerful way to get to know yourself is to develop your creativity and make time to be with yourself in the passion of your creative energy. Getting lost in what you are doing and becoming one with what you are creating.  This is where great ideas and thoughts and words of wisdom come to us… this is where our hearts become excited and we forget time and space and lose any desire to return to the real world. But when we do return, we have the extra dimensions of compassion and understanding to bring back with us. 

Until one is committed there is hesitancy… the chance to draw back. The moment one definitely commits oneself then Providence moves too.  
William H Murray. 

It has been said that true commitment is when the meeting takes place between what already is and what actually wants to become real. And indeed, a commitment must be made if we are to manifest the dreams for which we have been born. So, what already is can be found through delving into our creative self and trusting the process of bringing it out to become real. An awesome process. We have all been created and, therefore, as creatures of creation it is endemic in our very beings, to create.  There are as many ways to be creative as there are people on the planet so do not berate yourself for not being a Dali or a Picasso… you are you and you must give yourself permission to play around with whatever takes your fancy until you locate the inner you and then you can make the commitment to your inner self to live your life being the best version of yourself, living and honouring your god given purpose from the inside out. 

A commitment is not made, it is forged. It is forged between what is already located deep within and what wants to become real. You will know that you have located the inner you when you find yourself immersed in your project. You cannot tear yourself away and you are super excited about getting back to it as soon as possible! 

Thus, the commitment makes itself… forged by the inner formless truth, an unchosen desire, taking shape and being defined by the outer form which it takes on.

A true commitment is one that will change your life because it is born from who you already are and it will grow into its fully developed form by who you become.

As your commitment develops and you grow with it, through it and from it, so you can become ever more specific. As Rumi says, the desire has been placed in every heart and that desire becomes a driven thing when we discover the joy of being committed to who we really are! 

Everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in every heart… Rumi.

Kate Mchardy MA(Hons) PGCE MSPH Spiritual coach, teacher and healer. katemch@gmail.com / Tel: +44 7712889534. Facebook: The University of Light Group / Readings at The University of Light (@tarotangelspiritreadings). 

Horoscope October

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ARIES (Mar 21 – Apr 20)

Miracles do happen, Aries, and they start happening when we find a sense of inner peace. It is about energy and like attracting like… when the inner energy changes to still then when allow miracles in. 

TAURUS Apr 21 – May 21) 

During these times of uncertainty, Taurus, you may find that it helps to look into the eyes of the people you see each day and say, “The Light in me salutes the Light in you”. This will both spread and share happiness. 

GEMINI (May 22 – Jun 22) 

You are the great communicator, Gemini, and you have a vibrant imagination. You are in the ideal position at this time to help others to understand that they can indeed create their own reality and their own future. 

CANCER (Jun 23 – Jul 22)

You can expect to feel romantic love all around you this month, Cancer, and to feel especially cherished and cared for. First though, you must spend some time remembering that you deserve this!

LEO (Jul 23 – Aug 23) 

You may feel that you are in the middle of personal chaos at the moment, Leo, but remember that this is a time of truth and must be gone through for new life to emerge. That is exactly what is happening so take a deep breath and dive right in!

VIRGO (Aug 24 – Sep 23)

Our flaws, as we perceive them to be, are actually our wounds and therefore they are experiences from which we need to heal. So, this month you are being guided to be more compassionate with yourself, Virgo, and so with others..

LIBRA (Sep 24 – Oct 23) 

You may well find yourself working in partnership this month, Libra and this may be totally unexpected.  However, it is a very positive thing and there is much to be learned from helping each other be the best you can be! 

SCORPIO (Oct 24 – Nov 22) 

Connecting on a deeper level with someone this month is important, Scorpio, so don’t hold back. Overcome your initial fear and listen to your heart… It won’t let you down. This is one of those times when to be vulnerable id to be strong. 

SAGITTARIUS (Nov 23 – Dec 21) 

Remember Sagittarius, that thoughts become things and so we must monitor them carefully. In fact, to guide your thoughts towards forgiveness is a most powerful way to achieve success and contentment on all levels. 

CAPRICORN (Dec 22 – Jan 20) 

You are being guided to give away all feelings of fear and anger this month, Capricorn. Rather than pushing them down, allow them to rise to the surface and acknowledge them and then give them away. Send them off into the sky and just let them go. 

 AQUARIUS (Jan 21 – Feb 19) 

You are being reminded that you are powerful in whatever moment you choose to be so, Aquarius. You are an instrument of love right here, right now and you are being directed to step into that power. The world needs you! 

PISCES (Feb 20 – Mar 20) 

ou’ll find yourself giving a friend the benefit of the doubt this month, Pisces. Listen with depth and compassion. Do not judge. This is a time for your loyalty to guide your actions and to be the true friend that you are. A gift.

10 Pieces of advice for anyone starting or returing to university this year

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I can’t believe it’s been 4 years since I graduated from university, and 8 since I enrolled. They say your time at university can be the best years of your life and looking back I still believe that to be true (on par with travelling the world and living abroad of course). With some of my family members heading off to uni this year, I thought I’d share my advice for making the most of your time at university, and things that I would have found helpful to know when I started.

1. Don’t sit in your room all day.

I know some of us are more introverted/extroverted than others, but especially during your first few weeks at university it’s important to get to know your flatmates and people in your halls. Mostly to avoid things feeling awkward in the long run. Stepping out of your comfort zone and speaking to new people might be daunting for some, but remember everyone is in the same boat.

2. Learn some basic meals on Youtube.

It becomes so easy at uni to live off ready meals and Tesco meal deals, but that’s where you’ll see most of your money going. If cooking isn’t really your thing, try and master a few basic recipes that you can meal prep for the week so that you don’t end up buying stuff you don’t need when you don’t feel like cooking. Especially since the closest supermarket will probably be across the road in halls!

3. Budget your week.

I wasn’t the greatest at doing this my first year of uni, in fact I always found myself having to message my mum to top me up at the end of the week because I’d spent too much on student night events and Odeon cinema. In uni there’s always something going on, so it’s best to plan how much you’re going to need for food, bills etc for the week and then whatever is left you can leave for the fun stuff.

4. Take advantage of student discounts

UniDays, StudentBeans and Totum are all places that work with brands to give you the biggest discounts. The most important one if you’re planning on visiting your friends across the UK is to make sure you get a student 18-25 Railcard for discounts on your train and tube journeys. If you’re a big cinema fan, you can also get an Odeon Limitless card for £17.99 a month that lets you go see as many movies as you want.

5. Try something new with a uni social club or society.

I remember joining the rowing team during my first year of uni, and I only lasted two months because I couldn’t deal with the 6am wake up call every Saturday morning. That being said, the social and themed events that the team organised were amazing. If sport isn’t your thing, you’ll still find everything from the ‘wine society’ to the ‘disney society’. If you’re feeling inspired most universities also allow you to open your own club if there is enough interest/it follows the guidelines.

6. Don’t leave it until the end of the year to sort out accommodation.

After halls most people choose to go into a house share with friends, but the tricky thing is deciding after two months of knowing someone whether they would actually make a good housemate. I didn’t decide who I was living with until about March, and by then most of the good houses had already been swiped. My advice is to start thinking about who you’d like to live with a few months into your uni year, once you’ve managed to gather a good sense of character from your peers. Just pay attention to who cleans up their plates straight away and doesn’t steal all the milk.

7. Remember why you’re there in the first place.

Uni is definitely a place where you can work hard, and play hard. I think I went out the most during my final year of university, but I always made sure I’d hit my personal work deadlines first so that I’d be able to have fun and de-stress and not feel guilty about it. If going out partying isn’t your thing just make sure you’re still making time to do fun things so that you don’t burnout.

8. Look after your mental health.

University can be challenging for a lot of people. Whether it’s because you’ve moved away from home for the first time, are finding your course challenging, or because the experience hasn’t quite met your expectations. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in feeling like this and that you can talk to your friends, family or tutors about whatever issues you are facing. I know of people who felt pressured to stay at university when they really weren’t enjoying it, and it’s also ok to admit that university isn’t for you. Plenty of people choose to go straight into jobs after school and go on to have successful careers.

9. Be proactive and get involved.

Throughout your time at uni you’ll find there’ll be lots of opportunities offered to you which won’t only help your interpersonal skills and look good on your CV, but will also help shape your uni experience. I wasn’t aware my university offered a study exchange programme until I was having a deep browse through their website one day, and after enquiring to my course leader about it I ended up applying and doing a semester abroad in Orlando, Florida. If you aren’t sure about what extra opportunities your uni offers, make sure to speak to your tutor about it.

10. Use this time to grow.

Chances are you’ve grown up being around the same people, cultures and ways of thinking. Especially with Gibraltar being such a small place and close-knit community. When you get to uni not only are you thrown into the deep end of independence, it’s also a time where you get to discover new passions, relationships and hobbies. So make the most of it!

HC CANCER CENTER WEAPONS AGAINST BREAST CANCER

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October is breast cancer prevention month, although for many, awareness and the fight against this disease form part of every day of the year. 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in both developed and developing countries. It is estimated that 1 out of every 8 women in Spain will develop breast cancer. Despite this, the cure rate is increasing and thanks to early detection campaigns prognosis for this disease has improved. 

Medical advances have made it possible to learn more and more about the biology of the disease, developing more effective and less aggressive, personalized treatments. 

At HC Cancer Center we face this disease every day, our team comprises specialists in different fields who investigate the tumour starting at its origin and together plan the optimum treatment for each patient.

The first step in this fight begins with prevention and early diagnosis. All women aged 45 or over should have a mammogram. Tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, can detect very small lesions that previously passed unnoticed, increasing cancer detection by 40%. As a result, cancers are diagnosed in their early stages, significantly increasing patient survival.

When cancer is localized, the treatment of choice is usually surgery or radiotherapy, sometimes combined with chemotherapy to maximize the effect.

Surgically, conservative surgery is currently the preferred option, i.e. the removal of the lesion with an adequate margin, avoiding mastectomy whenever possible. 

In order to provide this more conservative treatment, while still maintaining local control and the survival figures previously obtained with mastectomy, it is ALWAYS necessary to supplement treatment with radiotherapy. “New radiotherapy is more precise, conformed, and safe,  improving treatment tolerance while maintaining effectiveness”, explains Paula Sedano, radiation oncology specialist at HC Cancer Center. 

In cases where systemic drug therapy is required she continues, “We have different genetic platforms that provide information on the genetic mutation of the tumour. This enables evaluation of the risk of relapse in each patient and therefore understanding of the benefits of supplementing treatment with chemotherapy, or even the identification of a drug targeted at that specific mutation”. In hormone-dependent tumours, hormone therapy will also continue to be an essential part of breast cancer treatment. 

Each treatment has its function and its time, and it is therefore essential that it is coordinated by a multidisciplinary team. “We have a breast unit made up of different specialists, among them gynaecologists, radiologists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists. They offer a complete service to patients from early diagnosis to treatment, to guarantee the best treatment option, in the best surroundings and with the same people”.

Thanks to this progress in treatment plus methods for early diagnosis, she concludes: “we have managed to increase long-term survival rates and are a step closer to winning this battle”.

Menopause: What exactly is it?

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All women go through it, but how exactly can you get through it? For many women, the menopause can be a real pain and have a significant effect on both your mind and body.

What does ‘menopause’ mean?

Technically, ‘menopause’ is simply the end of your periods, when you’ve gone at least a year with no menstrual bleeding. Physical changes begin years before the final menstrual period, and this transition phase is called perimenopause, when levels of the main female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) start to rise and fall erratically. On average, perimenopause lasts for around four years, although for some women, it can go on for up to 12 years. It’s likely you’ll begin to notice signs of perimenopause in your forties, or even your thirties and only 10% of women report their periods stop suddenly, with no noticeable changes in their cycles beforehand. The menopause usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55.

What are the most common menopause symptoms?

Not every woman has significant symptoms and you may find you barely notice the transition. Here are the most common menopause symptoms and how to tackle them:

Menstrual changes

A persistent change of seven days or more in the length of your cycle – making it shorter or longer – can indicate you’re in early perimenopause. A stretch of 60 days or more between periods usually happens later in perimenopause. Menstrual changes are caused by ovulation becoming unpredictable as your supply of eggs dwindles.

Hot flushes

Hot flushes and night sweats are collectively known as ‘vasomotor symptoms’ and affect between 60 and 85% of women, varying in severity and frequency. They usually last around two years but for 10% of women, hot flushes can last as long as 15 years. Experts still don’t know exactly what causes them, but it’s thought hormone fluctuations affect the way the brain controls body temperature.

What you can do: ask your doctor about HRT (hormone replacement therapy). This replaces your missing hormones and is the most effective way of stopping vasomotor symptoms, as it treats the underlying cause. Taking HRT can also lower your risk of conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis that increase post-menopause. 

Some menopausal women may prefer to use alternative remedies to tackle their symptoms, such as agnus castus, red clover or soy isoflavones. Look out for Holland & Barrett Femlieve Agnus Castus or Holland & Barrett Soya Isoflavones with Vitamin B6. Why not try Vitabiotics Menopace Plus plus active botanicals from Holland & Barrett to provide support during and after menopause.

Adopt simple lifestyle measures, like wearing natural fibres and try to reduce stress. Reduce (or cut out) alcohol and spicy foods which can often make hot flushes worse. Consider a course of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which has been shown to reduce the frequency and duration of hot flushes.

Mood problems

Anxiety and depression are more likely to affect women during perimenopause; if you have a history of depression, you’re likely to experience it now. Changes in hormone levels may affect the neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, that control mood. Of course, your mood can also be affected by other factors at this time, such as loss of fertility and negative social stereotypes around menopause, along with worries about children, work and elderly parents. Holland & Barrett Menopause Mood Relief 30 Tablets is a traditional herbal medicinal product for the relief of symptoms of the menopause including hot flushes and contains 300mg St. John’s Wort & 6.4mg Black Cohosh

What you can do: self-help measures can ease depression and anxiety, including yoga, meditation and regular exercise. Speak to your doctor about a course of CBT too. HRT may be useful, but antidepressants are not recommended as there’s no evidence that they work for low mood associated with menopause. Some women find herbal remedies, such as St John’s wort or valerian, may be helpful for low mood or anxiety during the menopause. Try Holland & Barrett Maximum Strength St John’s Wort Capsules or Holland & Barrett Valerian capsules containing Valerian root extract, but always read the advisory information on the packet beforehand. 

Sexual issues

Falling oestrogen levels can thin and dry vaginal walls, leaving you prone to infections and making sex uncomfortable. You may also experience irritation and soreness, even if you’re not sexually active. On top of this, you may find you have a reduced libido. Stress and relationship problems can contribute to lower sex drive and loss of lubrication too.

What you can do: vaginal dryness can be treated very simply with topical oestrogen, used either as a cream, pessary or vaginal ring. It can be used on its own or with HRT. Or you could try over-the-counter vaginal moisturisers and lubricants. Holland & Barrett Sea Buckthorn (Omega 7) can help to increase production of mucus in these linings.

Post-menopause

After menopause, a lack of oestrogen means you’re more susceptible to developing osteoporosis and heart disease. You may also find you gain weight and your skin starts to become dryer. You can support your bone health by upping your intake of calcium and vitamin D while omega-3 can help reduce your risk cardiovascular disease and combat dry skin. Holland & Barrett Calcium 600mg with Vitamin D3 or Holland & Barrett Extra Strength Omega 3 Fish Oil may help with post-menopause issues. 

Advisory Information:

Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking any medications or are under medical supervision, please consult a doctor or healthcare professional and always read the label before use.

Gibraltar Amateur Radio Society Lighthouse weekend

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Gibraltar Amateur Radio Society (GARS) activated Europa Point Lighthouse ZB2LGT (GI 001) for the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend (ILLW) on the 21st & 22nd August this year. This annual 48 hour amateur radio event is held on the third full weekend in August and involves participants setting up portable stations at, or as close as possible to, lighthouses and lightships around the world. Amateur Radio started in Gibraltar shortly after the Second World War and today GARS is a small but active society representing the interests of Amateur Radio both locally and internationally as a full IARU member society and the club is also affiliated to the Radio society of Great Britain.

Secretary of GARS, John King, explains that the club has been going since the late sixties. “In those days radio was quite popular because there was no such thing as Skype or WhatsApp and it was the only way to be able to talk to people without having to pick up a phone.”

Amateur radio (often called Ham Radio) is gaining in popularity throughout the world now, and year to year the number of licenses issued is increasing, which is not what most people would tend to expect in the age of smartphones which makes communicating with others much easier. Once thought of as a ‘geeky hobby’, John explains that it involves radio operators (called ‘hams’) talking to each other over HF/VHF and UHF frequencies.

“It used to be quite difficult to get involved,” John says. “Before 2003, to get a full UK amateur radio licence, you had to take the City & Guilds RAE exam, but from 2004 it became much easier with the dropping of the Morse code part and a new three way examination system – Foundation, Intermediate & Full – and since then a lot more people have taken up this hobby.”  This was evident in around the world during the lockdowns when people were stuck at home and looking for things to do.

The ILLW takes place as close to the Europa Point Lighthouse as members of GARS can get. “This year we operated from an old bird watching shack and over the course of the two days we managed to talk to about one thousand five hundred different stations around the world, including approximately thirty lighthouses who were taking part in the same event,” John states. Countries that made contact with Gibraltar were from most of Europe and the UK and included places further afield such as Uruguay, Canary Islands, Barbados, Zambia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, Chile, Algeria, South Africa, Eswatini, Tunisia, Israel, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Lebanon, Bonaire, Brazil, America, and Canada.

GARS has been involved in the Lighthouse event for the past twenty years and Gibraltar is unusual amongst the other countries taking part because there aren’t that many stations that are actually licensed here. “There are probably about fifty,” John says, “but of those there are only a handful that are actually active, so this means that when we call out everyone wants to talk to Gibraltar and we have to be very disciplined in how we operate.”

Something that ‘hams’ enjoying doing is collecting QSL cards which is a written confirmation of a two-way radio communication between two amateur radio or citizens band stations. A typical QSL card is the same size and made from the same material as a postcard, and most are sent through the mail. “If someone talks to us we will send them a QSL card with the station name on the front,” John comments. “The particular station for the lighthouse is ZB2LGT and this call is issued every year.”

A lot of people don’t understand amateur radio but it can be an incredibly social activity. “People see us down at Europa Point, sat on a chair, talking into a box and they have no idea what we are doing,” John laughs. As it says on the club website: “There is no better way to explore the fascinating world of radio communications than by becoming a radio amateur, and Gibraltar is a great place to do it from.” Amateur radio can be fun, social, and educational and there are many reasons why people become involved in the activity. These include being able to contact people all over the world by radio, to compete in international competitions, to engage in technical experimentation, to communicate through amateur space satellites or with the International Space Station and to act as a lifeline and to provide communications at times of emergencies. 

GARS is situated on Coaling Island and the club meet every Wednesday at 8 o’clock until 9.30 pm. John is keen to attract new members as well as welcoming any visiting radio amateurs. “If you are interested in learning about amateur radio and obtaining a Gibraltar licence, please pop down and have a chat with us and listen in and hopefully you will find a new hobby.”

Find out more about GARS from their Facebook page: Gibraltar Amateur Radio Society or from their website: www.gibradio.net or send an email to john_m_king@hotmail.com 

The GIBRALTAR Property Insight

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Why is Trusted Novus Bank entering the Buy-to-Let market?

We spoke with Kasper Thy Jessen (Head of Corporate Banking) and Morten Jensen (Head of Mortgages) to determine where they see the property market (specifically the Buy-to-Let) heading in the future and what does this mean for Trusted Novus Bank (TNB). 

The property market in Gibraltar has developed positively for a number of years. This is due to a combination of factors including high demand for rental properties, rental yield being 4%-6% on average and the absence of locally applied Capital Gains Tax.

With a high demand for Buy-to-Let properties, TNB recently developed a new product concept to support and facilitate the residential rental market.

Can you explain why TNB decided to explore the Buy-to-Let market? 

This has been an interesting market in Gibraltar during the last few years; a big part of the property market where we have seen several developments geared specifically to the Buy-to-Let target audience (E1, Eurocity, West One, Marina Club etc.). We’ve also experienced that many property investors are interested in partners that can help fund these purchases and we are very interested in helping them with this.

Mike Nicholls, CEO of Chestertons (Gibraltar) mentions “Buy-to-Let landlords in Gibraltar have achieved consistent gross yields of 5% – 6% pa over recent years. These have eased to 4% – 5% pa recently with sale prices moving sharply ahead in 2021. Larger, more expensive properties tend to have lower yields.”

How does this align with the overall strategy? 

TNB’s aim is to be the ‘Homeowners Bank’ and as part of this we also wish to support clients (and prospects) whose goals are to expand their property portfolio or are creating a portfolio in the Buy-to-Let market.

Our main focus is to grow our general lending book; hence we have been more active on marketing our residential mortgage and construction finance products. The Buy-to-Let market is a newer market for us and we’re hoping that by also focusing on this we can contribute even further towards the overall lending growth.

How does the Buy-To-Let product differ from our competitors?

Due to our highly personalised approach, we believe that we can find the right solution for our clients and be able to build strong long-lasting relationships. We want to be more than just a bank; we understand the importance of being partners.

We believe our products are highly competitive and, as we offer a broad range of banking services including investments, we are able to blend long term investments in financial markets with Buy-to-Let loans to offer low lending rates with flexible options for borrowers. This provides maximum rental yields whilst allowing diversification across a wider asset base.

How has Brexit affected our Buy-to-Let business?

Indirectly, and due to the potential new border agreement, Gibraltar has been seen as a popular area for investments.

Gibraltar’s Covid 19 vaccination program had the same effect, and this showcased Gibraltar as a country worth investing in. We received a large number of enquiries regarding Buy-to-Let mortgages earlier this year, this was from both local people and international (mainly UK).

Who is our target market for Buy-to-Let?

Our target market is primarily clients and prospects who have some previous knowledge and experience in the Buy-to-Let market.  

TNB is taking a cautious approach towards clients with no or very limited experience in buy-to-let property activities. History in other jurisdictions shows that where there has been a rapid boom in the buy-to-let market, some clients exposed themselves to high-risk investments whilst not fully understanding the risks involved.

We also expect our clients to have good knowledge of Gibraltar, meaning that they either live in Gibraltar or visit on a regular basis.


Short-lets, beach of covenant?

Words by
Dustin E. Joyce
Patner, Attias & Levy

As we continue to deal with the devastating effects of a global pandemic, the arduous balancing act of resuming social and economic ‘normality’ while maintaining public health remains integral. A useful insight into this context is the recent emphasis on the resumption of the tourism and hospitality sector in particular, which is an industry that Gibraltar heavily relies on economically. Indeed, within the face of encouraging waves of tourism in Gibraltar which has seen accommodation return to full capacity, tourists have resorted to alternative means to accommodate their stays. This, in turn, has created the foundations for an interesting dilemma to consider – the steady development of short-term lettings and AirBnb’s, the impact this is having on residential estates throughout Gibraltar and whether there is a need for stricter legal regulation in an increasingly novel area which is surrounded by underlying legal ambiguity. 

The question arises whether a short-term let would breach a covenant in a lease which prohibits a leaseholder from using their property for any purpose other than as a private residence.

The importance of this questions is obvious. With various listings on Airbnb and other sites, property owners are increasingly using such sites, to seek to make income from their properties. Yet leaseholders who utilise these sites are at a risk of having their leases forfeited if their actions are in breach of covenant. 

We look at the pitfalls of ‘hosts’ not doing their homework on leasehold covenants.

From a legal perspective, it is therefore important to consider the legality of these short-term lettings in light of the legal instrument that governs the relationship between landlords, management companies and leaseholders – the Lease. Issues are raised when considering the wording of residential Leases in particular, where covenants often contain ‘user’ covenants that restrict the way in which leaseholders may use the premises. As set out in leading cases on the basic construction of leasehold clauses such as Arnold v Britton [2015], the general principles of contractual interpretation will also apply to leasehold covenants. The effects of this are that courts will likely adopt a strict interpretation of the language of each independent lease when considering whether short-term lettings will be legally permissible. Indeed, on the basis of this framework it is likely that courts will adopt a strict objective basis when interpreting these clauses when applying the applicable test of construing what “a reasonable person having all the background knowledge which would have been available to the parties would have understood them to be using the language in the contract to mean,” as per Chartbrook Ltd v Persimmon Homes Ltd [2009]. 

Despite the logic with this approach to interpretation, the issue is that there is often ambiguity in the wording of these clauses which may create potential inconsistencies in the application of the law to these existing contracts. Clearly, under this interpretation the legality in which a leaseholder under a residential lease may use his property for short-term lettings will turn towards the actual wording of these clauses, rather than an adherence to what the parties’ themselves had actually originally intended. This becomes particularly problematic when interpreted within a current legal climate, where many leasehold contracts would have been drafted in a distinct legal and commercial context.

Recent cases have tended to introduce some clarity in this area. In particular, the case of Nemcova v Fairfield Rents Limited [2016] in what has become known at the ‘Airbnb ruling’ and represents the first decision of a superior court which tackled this question, where guidance was given on the circumstances in which short-term lets might amount to a breach of covenant prohibiting the use of a property for anything other than a private residence. The covenant to be observed by the tenant in the lease read “Not to use the Demised Premises or permit them to be used for any illegal or immoral purpose or for any purpose whatsoever other than as a private residence.” 

Lawyers for the tenant urged in the appeal that the lease was to be considered as a whole.  There were no restrictions on underletting or on granting short term tenancies or licences, no covenant prohibiting business use of the flat and no requirement for the property to be used as the tenant’s main residence.  In dismissing the appeal the court commented that the transient use of the property by the tenant created a set of circumstances where the tenant would not consider the property their private residence and that by granting short term lets of the property for days and weeks at a time this did on the facts of that case breach the covenant under consideration.

In order for a property to be used as the occupier’s private residence, there must be a degree of permanence going beyond stays lasting either a weekend or a few nights in a week. Where one draws the line is, of course, a matter to be explored on a case-by-case basis; nevertheless, it is clear that, the shorter the duration of the lettings to third parties, the more likely it is that the leaseholder will be in breach of covenant.

The more recent case of Triplerose v Beattie and Anor [2020] held that the duration of a series of short-length lettings was material to determining whether there was a breach of user covenants in a lease. Indeed, what this development in the case law shows is that ultimately whether or not a leaseholder is in breach of its lease will be centred on a review made by the independent judge on a case-by-case basis.

The Courts are therefore applying long established principle to new commercial trends and it is the manner in which they do so that creates uncertainty at present, but which will be clarified as more cases in this area get decided. 

Ultimately, it is important to take advise on lease covenants when purchasing property as a buy to let investment or before setting up as a host on a holiday site – failure to observe covenants in a lease could result in the loss of the property. Owners who are borrowers should also consider the terms and conditions of their mortgage before entering into short term lets as they could be in breach of those conditions by sharing occupation even for short periods of time.  


Property Market Update

A year that began nwith news of yet further lockdowns; clearly not something that one would have wished for in their New Year’s wish list, but we hoped and expected that this was the last curve on this winding road for Gibraltar at least. What was certainly not expected was the buoyant mayhem that unfolded during the course of the first half of 2021.

The end of 2020 did bring with it some good news in the shape of the “New Year’s Agreement” with Spain and the UK, delivering a degree of certainty for Gibraltar’s political and economic status, something which, since 2016 we have lacked. This really (in our view) has been a gigantic catalyst to the events in the property market over recent months and which has seen an uplift in property prices averaging (in general terms) to approx. 7%, but up to 15%+ in some circumstances. Frightening to say the least, although we had alluded to this late last year and even prior.

Over the past decade we have regularly provided appraisals on our thoughts and forecasts on the property market. Since 2017 we have highlighted our concerns with the high volume of speculative developments steered by a “studio” segment delivering hundreds of these units to the market. We have also expressed our bullishness in the market on “owner occupier” properties within the mid to high end tiers of the market and the demand for these properties. This demand has in part, been steered by an expectation of a positive outcome with regard to Brexit, as well as real growth in the market driven by applicants seeking larger homes, in their quest to base themselves in a safe, English speaking, regulated, low tax environment. We seem to be cementing this attractive proposition toward the “ultimate residency” further.

As to the impact of forming part of the Schengen group may have on the property sector in Gibraltar, clearly the prospect of free movement with Spain under a safe political arena not seen in over three hundred years is an attractive and positive proposition, not least with a continued and underpinned financial services relationship with the UK; the future seems bright, and we welcome the agreement. We will as always review and comment on the impact of this agreement, it clearly promises to deliver a bright future for Gibraltar with a degree of political security and economic stability not seen before.

There is little one can say to try and sum up the happenings of the past year, let alone that of the past 4 years. Just when we thought that there could be nothing worse than the antics of Brexit, we are given the joys of Covid-19.

Without wanting to make jest out of what has been the biggest health crisis in entire generations – is it ok to say… “for the love of God, someone please make it stop”! Thankfully in Gibraltar we can rest slightly easier than most. 

“where the world is in crisis, the Rock excels”.

A bullish comment spoken by yours truly at a presentation to some international investors who quite frankly are astounded by the success’ we are witnessing; and (if I may) so accurate when it comes to the experience, we have had over the past 4 years and ironically enough over the past 15months since March 2020. There is no question (and regardless of my banter), that we are and have been so incredibly fortunate, but to a larger degree so well placed and structured to have (in the main) done so well – and I am of course primarily referring to the property sector.

Against all the odds, we have seen price increases and sales volumes take a sharp rise throughout 2020 and an even sharper rise throughout the first half of 2021; as mentioned on so many occasions in previous updates, it has been the owner occupier markets, largely two-, three- and four-bedroom properties in mid to high end developments showing some truly spectacular gains with some increases in excess of 15%. The higher end and fourth tier in the market generally with price ranges upwards of £1,500,000 has also re-emerged with strong activity in this sector and sales in areas such as The Sanctuary (circa £6m and offers now reaching upwards of £7m), Buena Vista Park (average of £3.5m), Admirals Place and others. We have been fortunate to have been involved in the large majority of high value individual sales achieved to date. Interestingly we seem to be attracting high value profile clients who value privacy and a safe place to reside in, “safe” in all respects, and the Rock continues to be a beacon in this regard.

Without insight into circumstances surrounding us and an understanding of the dynamics of Gibraltar, the numbers are non-sensical and you may choose to take the view that this estate agent is quite frankly taking you for a ride.

Our view of the why’s and the how’s is best described in the extract below which we wrote some time ago: 

Our views over the years maintain a trend: growth in owner occupier driven markets steered by a continuously growing gaming and finance centre, with stability and security adding further value.

Whereas we have been pleasantly surprised with the growth in a large part of the property sector, we also continue to remain cautious on the studio market sector given volumes under construction and imminent completions.

We took a view to stay out of this segment several years ago due to the high volume of proposed developments exclusively aimed at this product. We struggled with the prices being pitched and the marriage to an identifiable end user. It appears that to date it is the only sector that in general terms has not enjoyed the growth in capital appreciation attained by much of the market.

Please note that these numbers are solely based on BMI Groups performance and do not necessarily account for the market in general – we do however believe that it describes a scene and a trend true to the market in general terms.

The updated graph above now shows only the trend line for the first 6 months of 2021. This essentially is a guide based on completed and uncompleted sales throughout the period – it is nothing short of exceptional.  We update our stats annually but due to the extreme hike in prices that we have witnessed during this period together with the volume of sales, we thought it worthy of note to use the graphic to exemplify the position. 

To be clear, we are not suggesting that the average price in Gibraltar has reached close to £1,000,000, this figure has been reached only because BMI have achieved some out of the ordinary high value sales during this period, which are not representative of the market in General. The truer figure based on deleting these exceptionally high value properties is likely to be in the region of £780,000 which reflects an uplift of approx. 15-20% over the period.

Outweighing all factors and reasons for the uplift is the very evident shortage of owner occupier, larger properties on the market and the demand that exists in this segment. We have been stating this for some time and advising our clients and applicants that it is this sector that remains the driving force and has resulted in extraordinary capital appreciation. Our average top end rate per square metre has now reached approx. £6,600 from an average of £5,700 only a year ago. We have reached rates of up to £9,000/sqm in some instances. 

The market has quite clearly pushed its boundaries once more, with average rates per sqm increased across all tiers, but in particular at the mid to high level tiers; we also believe that the fourth tier (upper high end) is firmly placed and here to stay, underpinned by a growing number of HNWI’s relocating and staying in Gibraltar – we are attracting real high value homeowners, no brass plating.  

The economy remains difficult to forecast and our exposure to the cost of Covid should not be underestimated. However, unlike many other competitor jurisdictions we benefit from a multitude of sectors contributing to the economy, it’s not just financial services or e-gaming; Gibraltar enjoys a vibrant shipping sector, and we are at the forefront in the regulation of DLT / Crypto sectors which have added huge value to our suite of services – this in our view is only set to grow further.

Tourism is also an important pillar of our economy, but it has to be said that there is a great deal more to be done; we have enormous potential, but we have always remained behind the curve in what is a sector that should be developed to its full and in keeping with the times.

Having said all of the above, if one considers the timeline since the Brexit referendum and all the uncertainties surrounding this and Covid, it has to be said that we have done swimmingly and held our own immensely well. 2021 brings its own challenges and so far our position is truly quite special, our ability to overcome stands us in good stead to continue with our ever-growing economy and with it our property sector too.

We hope that with this recent write up we can give a small and educated snapshot of the market where we see the upsides, as well as some of the downsides.

Louis C. Montegriffo,
Managing Director,
BMI Group.


The soft touch

Words by Kathleen North

We all have a pretty clear idea about what furniture is, but what is soft furnishing?
Soft furnishings include items such as curtains, scatter cushions, bean bags, bean cubes and chair coverings that are used to decorate a room. When you talk about soft furnishing these items specifically add that extra colour, softness, and texture to your living room. It also helps to overcome any of the furniture flaws that might be there in the living room and help to give it a feeling of warmth and comfort. The fabric is like a compulsory and most essential part of soft furnishing.

It enhances your relaxing and ups a room’s tranquillity levels. Soft furnishing gives a room a complete makeover in an economical way. It even allows you to try out your DIY skills and show off your artistic/design side. It’s the easiest way to switch up a room’s look in terms of colours and contrasts

How should you select the soft furnishing items for your living room?

Deciding the items to choose while decorating your home is usually a time-consuming task. It varies from person to person depending upon their taste, likes, dislikes, your budget and so on.

When trying to choose the best furnishing item for your home it is essential to keep in mind that the items that you choose must make the surrounding attractive and elegant. You need to ensure that they add to the surrounding of the home as well as the item should be of a good quality.

Although soft furnishing is available in a wide variety, you should be aware of what should be selected and which item should complement his need most. 

There will be a number of options available for you across colour, design, textures, patterns, etc. but you should be wise enough that which of the chosen pattern is going to complement the house most.

Soft furnishing items add liveliness and warmth to the house and make the surroundings feel more welcoming.

Steph Briggs is a TV Celebrity Interior Designer and Co-Founder of Interiors & Gifts Emporium, La Di Da Interiors.

Steph believes ‘Predicting design trends can take a lot of research and observation. The Catwalk fashion trends often influence interior design. Colours, patterns, materials and shapes of the season often influence what we see moving into commercial design and then home interior design via the High Street. World affairs and events also influence trends in design; think how much Covid has changed our interiors, with almost every home in the UK requiring at least one work from home station, if not two or three, depending upon the number of adults and children in the house.

The Biophilic design trend has continued to remain strong, embracing design inspiration by nature, as we crave bright skies, freedom, long carefree summer days. 

There are professional trend forecasting companies out there for the major retailers. However, smaller design houses and retailers know their target market and utilise trend knowledge to create a product range in line with their customer’s needs and desires. 

Not all trends are suitable for every brand (after all, if we were all the same, life would be so dull) so it’s all about knowing what works for you and your client base.

Social media has had a massive impact over the last few years. Instagram, along with the rise of ‘influencers’, has seen the achingly dull grey on grey palette sit alongside the shiny world of Mrs Hinch and influencers who create a reel out of each DIY project. 

Interior trends are predicted up two years in advance – most of us in the trade will order at least 6-9 months in advance of the season. I usually order my Christmas stock in February.

The environment comes into play. For example, it is difficult to predict the weather; a long hot summer equates to increased alfresco living and leading an outdoor lifestyle. However, a cold, wet summer means more storage is required and a greater focus on a multi-functional space for indoor living. 

For anyone designing their home without the benefit of an Interior Designer, neutral interiors are incredibly popular due to the perception that it’s easy to pull a scheme together without getting scared of getting it wrong. 

The dull grey interiors of 2020 transformed into Greige in 2021 and are now more textural. Pale neutral interiors are popular as ever but richer in texture. Layers of chunky wool, heavy linens, porcelain, and dried botanicals feature heavily and add personality and a tactile nature. 

Bolder and more confident, Navy blue is the colour to use in dark interiors at present. Soulful and deep, it works fabulously as a background for metallics for a luxe feel. This classic shade pairs beautifully with natural wood and tan leather for a sophisticated, relaxed look. And the traditional combination of soft white and navy gives a regal touch and works brilliantly with ‘Bright Skies’ Dulux Colour Of The Year for a simple contemporary style. 

As we become more conscious of supply chain and environmental impact, refinishing and upcycling furniture is no longer seen as a “make do and mend” approach but is a beautiful way of achieving a bespoke look. Designer style with eco ethics is the future.’

The emphasis on natural and sustainability continues to grow from interior trends from previous years. It’s no wonder that their aesthetics are becoming even more refined and covetable. Moreover, we’re seeing a subtle merge of retro, natural, and zen elements in 2022 interior design trends. In addition, the importance of setting up home offices and keeping clean spaces play a substantial role in favoured looks.

Single-use spaces seem to be a thing of the past. In the light of architectural strides and design, we expect interior design trends in 2022 to feature nifty ideas on multifunctional rooms. Make the most of every nook and cranny with clean and innovative room-dividing tactics.

One clear reason why the calming neutral colours continue to infiltrate the interior design trends of 2022 is because we continue to strive for balance and harmony in the home. We want and need the home to be a place of recovery, a place where we feel safe and can heal after a troubled time. 

Steph Briggs: La Di Da Interiors.

https://www.ladida-andover.com


Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney

Words by  by Natasha Pizzarello,
Associate,
Hassans International Law Firm Limited

For many people writing a Will and setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney can be a complex and daunting process.  Although there is a lot of information out there on these important documents, not all of it may be accurate.

As life and responsibilities change, estate planning becomes more relevant and important. The COVID-19 global pandemic has focused some people’s minds on estate planning measures and putting in the necessary arrangements in place to protect their loved ones. 

The biggest misconception surrounding Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney are that they are documents for the elderly, and this could not be further from the truth. 

Wills

A Will is a document that allows an individual to put in writing how they wish to distribute their possession when they pass away. For the Will to be valid it needs to be executed in a specific manner.

As long as you are over the age of 18 you are not too young to make a Will. In a Will you can outline your wishes in respect of your possessions (physical and digital ones) as well as your children, other dependants and pets. 

Unfortunately, we cannot predict the future and having a Will in place that outlines your wishes can give you peace of mind whilst protecting and avoiding unnecessary stress for your loved ones during difficult times. 

Even if your family are aware of your wishes the legal position on the distribution of possessions in the absence of a Will is very specific and this may not necessarily be in line with your wishes. It is important that a Will is therefore in place to clearly set your intentions with regards to the distribution of your estate. This ensures that potential future disputes are avoided, which could be unnecessarily costly, burdensome and distasteful for family members.

Wills are not a “one size fits all” and specific advice is usually required to cater for different circumstances and to protect your wishes. 

If you already have a Will in place that is a great first step. It is however very important that you review it regularly or whenever you have any major life changing events to ensure that it always reflects your current circumstances and wishes. 

Lasting Powers of Attorney 

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legally binding document that allows an individual to choose a person or people that they trust to make decisions on their behalf (called the attorney) if or when a person no longer has capacity to make decisions for themselves.

If you were to have a serious accident or change in your health that affects your mental capacity your next of kin would not have the automatic right to manage your financial affairs or make health decisions on your behalf.

Putting Lasting Powers of Attorney in place is like setting up a life insurance policy, you hope it never needs to be used but if the circumstances arise you have something in place to assist your loved ones.  Having Lasting Powers of Attorney can help avoid the need for court proceedings in the future which can be costly and time consuming. 

There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney: 

• Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney.

• Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. 

A Lasting Power of Attorney in respect of property and financial affairs gives the attorney the power to make decisions that may include withdrawing money from a bank account, dealing with property or re-investing assets. An individual can choose whether the Lasting Power of Attorney is valid from the moment it is entered into or only when the individual has lost mental capacity as prescribed by a medical practitioner.

A Lasting Power of Attorney in respect of health and welfare gives the attorney the power to make decisions that may include whether to keep the individual on life-sustaining treatment or whether the individual should live in care. The attorney’s authority under this document is only valid when an individual has lost their mental capacity. as prescribed by a medical practitioner.

At Hassans we offer specific advice and tailor-made Wills and Lasting
Powers of Attorney in order to safeguard our clients’ future wishes. For any further information please contact natasha.pizzarello@hassans.gi or abigail.cornelio@hassans.gi of Hassans International Law Firm Limited. 

Gold for Gibraltarian Rower Jack Prior

in Features

Gibraltar is celebrating the success of local rower Jack Prior who was part of Team Great Britain that won the gold medal in the Men’s Eight final at the 2021 European Rowing Under 23 Championships held in Kruszwica, Poland on 5th September. 

Jack’s passion for rowing came from his father who was a member of the Calpe Rowing Club which has become something of a well-established breeding ground for successful athletes. “I have been a member of the Calpe Rowing Club since I was a baby, and I would go and watch my dad race when I was younger,” he says.  “I started rowing from the age of 12 and kept improving.” Jack credits rowing with keeping him fit and also with developing a discipline that helped him through his GCSEs and A levels and then at university. “It makes you realise that hard work pays off and that if you study hard you are going to get the results that you want.”

In 2018 Jack moved to the UK to attend Oxford Brookes University and has recently graduated with a Sports Coaching and Physical Education degree. Fortunately, Jack is just starting his PGCE teacher training placement in October at the City of Oxford College which means that he won’t spend time commuting and will be able to carry on training with the Oxford Brookes Rowing Club. At the moment, Jack says that his life consists of rowing and studying. “Usually on a weekend I will wake up around 6.30 am, go to training and then get back around 2pm.” It’s not all hard work and no play though. “We do have social events at the Rowing Club and the coaches understand that whilst we are at university we need to enjoy ourselves as well.”

“At first, it was a difficult adjustment going from a junior rower into the senior set up. It was during my second year that I started making good progress but unfortunately because of Covid I couldn’t really finish that year, however in my final year I really improved, and part of that was down to the standard of the people I was rowing with,” Jack explains. “My personal scores improved so much throughout that year as did the general standard of the student group here at Oxford Brookes.”

“I had to submit scores on the rowing machine in November last year and then some in January and February after which I got invited to do some trials in May where they picked out who they wanted to take to the European scene.” Of those sixteen, the twelve fastest got picked for the team.

Rowing is the ultimate team sport, where every rower must match exactly the movements of the others in the boat to achieve a successful outcome. “I was training with Oxford Brookes the whole time but the last three weeks before the competition I was training with the Great Britain team, most of whom I hadn’t met before but luckily we got on really well because everyone was in the same boat, (excuse the pun),” he laughs. According to Jack, although people were apprehensive at first, the group dynamics really picked up once they knew they had been selected to go to Poland.

The team flew out on the Thursday before the competition which was being held over the following Saturday and Sunday. “It was a whole day of travelling and then about a four hour transfer to the hotel, so we were all a bit lethargic on the Friday session,” he states. “Saturday was a preliminary race where the fastest crew gets the best lane and the slowest gets the worst lane,” Jack explains. “On that Saturday morning we did a session before our preliminary race in the afternoon and we won that, but we didn’t really know how fast everyone else was going because they could have just been playing mind games and may have been going a little bit slower on purpose.” This set the team up quite nicely for the Sunday because they were able to identify a few things they could improve on. “On Sunday we had a session in the morning and the final was in the afternoon.”

Jack says that it wasn’t until they were about two hundred metres from the finishing line that the team knew they had done it and that then it was just incredible knowing that they had crossed the line first in front of other international crews from Germany, Romania, the Czech Republic and Ukraine. “It was a magical feeling.”

However, Jack says that at first it didn’t feel like they had it in the bag. “If you look back on the live-stream we were actually down a little bit for the first 500 metres and that is when we decided we were going to push through from the 500 all the way through to half way – so we started moving through everyone else until we had about two or three seconds on the rest of the field and from there it was just a chasing game with the other teams trying to chase us down.”

There were huge celebrations when Jack returned to Gibraltar, with a big reception at the Calpe Rowing Club as well as a private reception for Jack and his family at No. 6 hosted by the Chief Minister, whose wife just happens to be Jack’s aunt. 

Jack is now twenty-one years of age and will be eligible, if selected, to row for the Great Britain U23 team for one more year.  “I don’t automatically go through and although it will be much the same selection process as this year, it will be a little bit easier because they know that I represented Great Britain before – but I still have to hit all the qualifying standards.”

What does the future hold for Jack? “I would eventually like to come back to Gibraltar and teach, hopefully in the area of PE which is my main interest.” Maybe we will see Jack competing in the Olympics in the future? “I don’t know, I am just going to take it year by year at the moment and see what happens,” he replies modestly. 

European Snooker Championships in Portugal

in Features

The EBSA European Snooker Championship is the premier amateur snooker tournament in Europe and this year it is being held in Portugal at the VidaMar Hotel Resort in the Algarve from the 2nd to 17th October. Gibraltar players Lee Prickman and Michael J Kane have booked their places in the Algarve event organised by EBSA (European Billiards & Snooker Association) in conjunction with the Federaçao Portuguesa de Bilhar (FPB).

Lee, apart from being the number one player in Gibraltar, is also the Secretary for GBSA (Gibraltar Billiards & Snooker Association) based at The Crucible Club in Jumpers Bastion. He explains that this was the same tournament that was due to be held in March last year, but it didn’t go ahead because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“On Saturday the 15th March last year I played Judd Trump, the world number one, in the Gibraltar Open and for the first time in snooker history there was no-one except for the two of us, the referee and two camera people, that was it, there was not another person in the stadium,” Lee says. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, matches were originally limited to a maximum audience of 100 but after the first day, all matches were played without any spectators. “Francis Becerra and I were due to leave for Portugal the day after the tournament finished, but it was called off.”

Michael, originally from Northern Ireland, and Lee are entering three different tournaments, the first one being the 6 Reds beginning on Thursday, 7th October. The second is the Men’s and Mixed. “This is the showcase tournament and it means that anybody of any age or any gender can enter,” Lee states, and the third is the Seniors competition for over 40s, the final of which concludes on Friday 15th October. There is also a team tournament going on at the same time but as Lee and Michael are in the Seniors they can’t enter in case they are drawn against someone they are already playing. “There are also Individual tournaments for the U18s and U21s, which we don’t qualify for,” Lee laughs, “so we decided to play in the best categories that we could fit in to.” All tournaments are mini-league style round robin played until the knockout stages, except the 6 reds which is a straight knockout from start to conclusion. 

Lee explains that there will be 16 competition tables brought and set up particularly for the tournament, with between twenty-eight and thirty countries represented and up to one hundred and twenty to one hundred and forty players in the Men’s category alone. “The tournament will be live streamed from the EBSA.tv website – and other media outlets will also link in to that and project it worldwide,” he says. 

The EBSA European Snooker Championship attracts the best amateur players from Europe vying for a chance to get a 2 Year Pro Snooker Tour card. “Some of the budding amateurs utilise the facility of having access to become professional via this tournament,” Lee states. “There will also be many well-known names in the world of snooker taking part who have been professional in the past but who have fallen off the tour and are looking for a way back in.”

Lee names ex-professional Darren Morgan (Wales) who won the World Amateur Championship in 1987 and played on the professional main tour from 1988 until 2006. “He plays in the Seniors and wins it most times,” he says. “There is a very good player from Finland called Robin Hull – who used to be an exceptionally good professional player, and one of the youngsters that will be taking part in the Under 21s championship is a guy called Connor Benzey who is looking to turn professional.”

Asked how he thinks that he will do in his tournaments, Lee comments that he will be competing with the best non-professional players in this part of the world and because they are all trying to do the best for their countries, they all come under a lot of pressure. “Michael and I are both decent players and we can beat any of the other competitors, but it is all down to a bit of luck on the day.”

“The tournament tables are a little bit different, harsher and faster than those we normally play on, and the pockets are cut very tightly so you have got to be very accurate, but as long as we can brush the pressure aside as soon as possible and play and cue well – I am not going to say we are going to win it – but there is every chance that we may certainly make a few surprises.”

The Crucible Club, with between sixty and eighty members, is back up and running now after having being closed during the lockdown periods, and is of course complying with hygiene and social distancing criteria. Lee says the Club is keen to welcome new members, especially in the juniors section. “It would be great if we could enter players from Gibraltar into the Under 18s and Under 21s in future EBSA tournaments,” he says. 

Lee and Michael are proud to be representing Gibraltar at the EBSA European Snooker Championship and Insight wishes them the very best of luck in their endeavours in Portugal. 

www.gibraltarsnooker.com

King Calaway on the rise again with a new EP released

in Features

There is a Country Rock band in Nashville who had been nudging big time success when the world got wrapped up in a pandemic and they went off the public radar. Not completely though as fans will point you in the direction of a number of celebrity duets which they were a part of on Zoom during the dark days of lockdown… when playing in a band meant that you were playing in your front room and other band members in theirs. Local singer and composer, keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Simon Dumas was tracked down for a chat.

It’s great to hear that King Calaway are touring again after the lockdown. How did it feel to be playing to live audiences again?

“It’s been really incredible to be performing again. Dates have been slightly scattered in terms of where and when. A few of the gigs have been rescheduled shows from 2020 but all in all it’s been so rewarding to get back on stage. As we release our new EP we still have local shows booked in Nashville including at the Grand Ole Opry.”

The pandemic rudely interrupted your well charted course which was on track to make your band bigger and more widely known… what changes have been made by your management to bring King Calaway back into the public eye again?

“Collectively we agreed it would be best if the band used the time off to write new songs, rework our sound and to get ready for when the world reopened. We are so grateful for the support from our record label and management team who have put together some great opportunities for us in the hope that our music will reach as many people as possible.”

How did you manage to spend your time between Gibraltar and the US during lockdown and when did it finally become possible to be a band again and play in the same room together?

“In Gibraltar I spent time with my family. After a whirlwind two years with KC it was really nice to hit the pause button and just spend time at home. It was also a good chance to reflect on all that had happened and that alone inspired a lot of song writing in the evenings via Zoom with Nashville writers. I did more song writing once I got back to Nashville in August of 2020. It was great to be reunited with the band. In the New Year we went to Asheville, North Carolina in February for three weeks in order to record our new material.”

I’m assuming that the band’s song writing would have come along nicely with all that time on your hands during isolation …will these new songs make it into your next album or will there be additional material from other writers involved?

“Yes indeed. We’ve all been writing a lot of material. I’d say between us we were narrowing down choices from a pool of eighty songs that each of us had co-written. This new four songs EP will feature 3 songs with at least one KC original, and one ‘outside cut’ as they are called over here. I co-wrote two of the songs on the EP, ‘More People’ and ‘Heartbreaker’ and I’m really excited about all the other songs which will be released at a later date.”

Previously you have played for ‘Rascal Flatts’ when they were on their last tour before the pandemic and it was on the cards to happen again…is this opportunity still being actively pursued if or when they tour next year perhaps?

“Our first and only time we played opening for ‘Rascal Flatts’ was phenomenal! It was at the Ascend Amphitheatre in Nashville to a couple thousand fans. Unfortunately the pandemic seems to have cancelled that farewell tour which we were going to join, however I do hope it will be rescheduled!”

From a personal perspective since you have tasted some success and high-profile gigs on TV and concerts do you feel any nearer to making it big time or is your musical dream realized already?

“I’ve spent my whole life imagining what it would feel like to ‘make it’ in music. 2019 was for me truly a bucket list year, performing in US Bank Stadium to 70,000 people, also playing live on the ‘Late Late Show’ with James Corden and other TV shows. At this point I’m taking every day as it comes with a tremendous amount of gratitude. I still have my aspirations as a songwriter (both for King Calaway and for other artists). I’m also hoping that our band can get out and play on a headline tour once it’s safe to do so.”

Can you give us an insight into which songs might get into the final cut of the projected KC album which are already recorded?

“This new body of work is inspired by our stories and our journey. Musically we really channelled a sort of ‘California country’ sound with Rock influences in some other songs.We are really proud of what we’ve created and feel it’s the most authentic version of King Calaway to date.”

If there has been a negative it has to be the band’s time apart during lockdown, which I know you are catching up on…has this separation dulled your collective drive as a band and is everyone still 100 percent on board to Rock the rest of 2021 and beyond?

“We are all 100% on board! We are hungry, motivated and ready to pick up from where we left off in 2020. However with new momentum, live shows and excitement!”

There is little that we can add to that sentiment other than our best wishes that dreams may continue to come true and that this talented band that are ‘King Calaway’ take their place in the US music charts and who knows, if they tour Europe in the future they could be booked to perform here once again on Simon Dumas’ home turf. Take a listen to their new music on Spotify or any of the other music platforms it’s good music on the rise.

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