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  • Message from His Majesty the King at the FPdGi Awards ceremony

Message from His Majesty the King at the FPdGi Awards ceremony

  • H.M. Felipe VI

Coming to Girona is always a great joy for the Queen and I; until now, it has been as Prince and Princess and it will continue to be so as King and Queen. And when we are invited here –as today– to attend the Foundation’s awards ceremony or the IMPULSA Forum, this very positive feeling is boosted even further by the enthusiasm and hope involved in working on such an innovative and inclusive project for –and with– young people.


On these visits, which have been frequent in recent years to both Girona and other parts of Catalonia –especially since the Foundation was created–, we have encountered nothing but friendship and affection from many of you. We have always felt surrounded by your help and support; from many of you here today and also from others who are not in this auditorium right now. To all of them, to all of you, we would like to express our most sincere gratitude.


These visits have enabled us to get to know and better understand Catalonia, how the Catalan people feel and think; they have also allowed us to appreciate with greater precision and warmth the common things that all of us in Spain share and those which bear the particular hallmark of this land and its people.


The love of one’s homeland, and especially of one’s language and culture, entrepreneurial and business acumen, a capacity for initiative, a reflective and critical spirit and an openness to the outside world are all qualities, among others, that have characterised the men and women of Catalonia throughout history and for which they have, quite rightly, been respected, admired and cherished; and with which they have also contributed so much to the overall progress of Spain as a whole.


And finally, I would also like to say that as Heir to the Throne, and now as King, with these visits –which have increased greatly recently– I hope to make the Crown even more present in this land, to transmit messages of respect, understanding and coexistence which, as I affirmed in my inaugural address as King, are fundamental to our Constitutional Monarchy.


Ladies and gentlemen,


It is now five years since the Foundation was set up and I feel that this is a very appropriate occasion to appraise the things we have accomplished, which in my opinion –and I know I am not very objective– include plenty of very good achievements.


From the outset, we firmly and enthusiastically assumed the goal of helping young people of different ages and from different areas to get more involved and to take on a more active role in building future society. We have encouraged their enterprise initiative, creativity, innovation and talent. And we have done so directly with them, but also with their teachers, to more effectively transmit these vital attitudes for their employability. We have worked hard to prevent school drop-outs, to boost learning and promote continuous education; and also to support and nurture young people’s vocations.


Although this work has been carried out by the Foundation, it has also involved people and organisations from all over Spain –many from here, from Girona and Catalonia– who have worked jointly on a project that brings together our strengths and enables us to get to know and appreciate one another better. This project demonstrates that genuine and generous collaboration is the best way to realise each person’s legitimate aspirations and, also, to achieve large-scale collective goals that benefit the common good and general interests.


The results obtained over this time show that we are certainly on the right track. As well as congratulating you –and congratulating all of us– on what has been accomplished and expressing, on behalf of everyone, our shared sense of pride, I wish to pledge the Crown’s continued support –both now and always– to the Prince of Girona Foundation project, with the same intensity, the same dedication and the same esteem. Because it is good for our young people and is therefore good for Girona, for Catalonia and for all of Spain.


I would like to say that it has been a great honour to bear and to use the title of Prince of Girona over these past years. I am sure that it is also an honour, despite her young age, for my daughter Princess Leonor, and it will undoubtedly be so in the future. A title that dates back to the Middle Ages, which is a symbol of our history, and the use of which has always been present at times of greatest recognition of the personality of this land.


Ladies and gentlemen,


Today’s young people are, without doubt, one of the best prepared generations in our history. But it is also true that, despite the positive fact of having so many highly educated young people, unfortunately a huge number of them, regardless of their level of education, are unable to find work.


Our society, and particularly our young people, needs references and values, it needs drive and hope; it also needs a sustained commitment to face its current situation and its evolution. Today we are joined by our award winners for whom I am sure that hard work, effort and sacrifice have been and will continue to be the only path to success. And, at the same time, they are references and examples to follow, they are people capable of leading the young; with the ability to motivate them and encourage them to take risks, and to get back up again after each failure.


And in this 2014 edition, our awards have been given to Hugo, Ignasi, Alberto, Rui Miguel and Mohamed.


Hugo Fontela was born in the Asturian municipality of Grado, and at the age of 19 he decided to move from Oviedo to New York to study at the Art Students League. New York is now his city of residence and the place where he has created much of his work. However, his natural curiosity also led him to spend two long periods in Brazil with Oscar Niemeyer, inspiring his exhibition Niemeyer by Fontela, which was shown in the centre designed by Niemeyer in Avilés. Hugo has been chosen to receive the 2014 FPdGi Arts and Literature Award because “his paintings are reflective, pared down and committed to protecting nature, and the jury was impressed by their maturity and intensity.”


When speaking about our Arts and Literature Award I could not possibly forget to mention, on a day like today, the acclaimed writer Ana María Matute, an outstanding name in Spanish literature, who was deeply committed to her society, and who found in her beloved Catalonia, where she was born and died, a vital reference. Let these brief words pay well-deserved homage to this unforgettable person.


Ignasi Belda, 2014 FPdGi Business Award winner, was born in Alcoi and has developed much of his academic education and his business projects in Barcelona. However, his curiosity and his vocation have also led him to spend time studying and training in the UK, Sweden, Hungary, Italy and the USA. And, quite rightly, the jury decided to present him with this award “for being a young entrepreneur with a solid academic background who is launching his professional career in the field of biomedicine and technology with great effort, determination and innovative capacity and for his clear international focus which is a living reflection of the real situation facing entrepreneurs in today’s global society.”


The personal and professional journeys of Alberto Enciso and Rui Miguel Dos Santos, joint winners of the 2014 FPdGi Scientific Research Award, also leave no doubt about this new need for young people to open themselves up to the world.


Alberto left Madrid to spend a year and a half as a postdoctoral researcher in the mathematics department of the prestigious Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, a centre with a history that spans more than 150 years and through whose classrooms and laboratories have passed 21 Nobel prize winners and such outstanding figures as Albert Einstein. Alberto also lived, studied and worked in Toronto, Rome and New York between 2005 and 2012, the most important years of his scientific education.


In turn, Rui Miguel moved from his native Lisbon to London to undertake his postgraduate studies. After the UK, he spent two years at the Max Planck Institute in Germany before moving on shortly afterwards to become a lecturer and researcher at our own Spanish National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), in Madrid, under the leadership of the greatly admired Valentín Fuster. Portuguese, English, German and Spanish are the languages that this young Spanish-based researcher has used as instruments of communication and work.


The jury decided to present the 2014 FPdGi Scientific Research Award “to Alberto Enciso Carrasco for his research into developing new techniques for analysing differential equations used in physics and directly applicable to several fields of science and technology.” And to Rui Miguel Dos Santos Benedito, “in recognition of his excellent research in the field of vascular biology, which is highly relevant in many areas of healthcare such as treating cancer and cardiovascular disease, and for his leadership capacity.”


Mohamed El Amrani has understood since he was very young that social responsibility and commitment to his community could be applied equally in both his home city of Chefchaouen, in Morocco, and in the town of Roses in the Alt Empordà region, which is just some minutes away from here. Mohamed –in the words of the jury– has been presented with the 2014 FPdGi Social Award “for his exemplary character, his attitude of positive communication, his inclusive nature, his community work and his capacity to find small solutions to large problems.”


All of our award winners this year, just like those who were recognised in the previous four editions, decided at some point in their artistic, business, social or research careers to look abroad, to study other languages and to acquire intercultural skills that have been fundamental in their lives and careers.


But these young people at some point needed a little push, some initial help, somebody to guide them. Each year, the Prince of Girona Foundation also recognises the work of an organisation that does precisely this: one that works for young people, especially to foster their entrepreneurial spirit, their employability and workplace integration, their education and academic success, and, in general, their vocations and talents.


This year, the jury for the 2014 FPdGi Organisation Award wanted to recognise the outstanding work that Ciudad Industrial del Valle del Nalón – Valnalón has been carrying out for more than twenty-five years, and “its pioneering commitment and action in education and for promoting entrepreneurial attitudes as a means to develop young people’s skills with the ultimate goal of improving their economic and social environment.”


Dear award winners, you have been courageous and you have fought hard to make your dreams come true. We all know that this is no easy task, and that the way is lined with sacrifice and effort. And it is precisely for this reason that we want to extend our warmest congratulations. You should be very proud of yourselves, as we are to have you here today in Girona, and know that from today you can consider us, if you wish, part of your projects.


Ladies and gentlemen,


Tomorrow is the start of the IMPULSA Forum, one of our Foundation’s central activities and one which is always full of ideas, energy and intensity. It never leaves one indifferent and, in the opinion of many of those who attended and participated in previous years, it enriches our understanding of where the society of the future is heading and it helps to refresh our capacity to learn, to innovate and to progress towards finding solutions to many of our current and future socioeconomic problems and challenges.


The slogan for this new edition is “Open and collaborative”, which refers to the collective creation of shared resources and leveraging underutilised resources. A fine example of our Foundation’s sensitivity to all innovative forms of economic and social interaction.


Although all those taking part in the Forum will have the opportunity to learn about and to discuss this highly topical subject, I would like to mention and underline the importance, in this context, of sharing –something so deeply rooted and strongly associated with our Judeo-Christian tradition. But I am referring more to the modern idea of sharing experiences, knowledge, energy, ways of looking at the world and its situation. Young people know a lot about this, and I am sure that you have some very valuable contributions to make on this matter.


So, we hope you all have a wonderful IMPULSA Forum; and that you enjoy yourselves and take maximum advantage of it. And thank you all for attending and to all those people taking part tomorrow who are making a special and very generous effort to be here and to help us achieve our aim of placing young people at the forefront of their hopes for the future, which we all share.


I deeply regret that the Queen and I cannot be here with you tomorrow. It is something we feel very bad about but we hope that you can understand the rather new circumstances that we find ourselves in. But rest assured that we will be following events at the Forum very closely through the Internet and the media. Also, the fantastic team at the Foundation will be keeping us fully up-to-date on everything.


Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,


Over the years, whenever I have spoken in Catalonia I have used two of our official languages: Spanish and Catalan; two languages that we should feel very proud of because they enrich Spain’s cultural heritage. And today, after being proclaimed King, I wanted to begin my address in Catalan and I would also like to end now in this language of ours in recognition of one of the defining characteristics of Catalonia. A language, Catalan, which in permanent, sincere and enriching dialogue and coexistence with Spanish, is an element without which it would be impossible to understand the culture of this land.


Thank you very much.

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