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EXCLUSIVE: How Gibtalks is helping to fuel discussion – Felice

The annual event held this Saturday could be helping mould the way we communicate and how much we listen.

This is the opinion of Julian Felice, who for the fifth year running has organised another show to remember for the general public at the John Mackintosh Hall theatre.

“Judging by the programme and the conversations I’ve had it’s going to be another good one,” said Felice. “Obviously I get a lot of insight on what they’re thinking about and it seems it is of interest to the community. I am really looking forward to them standing there and sharing their interesting stories with the people.

“We haven’t tinkered with the event from the beginning because it works well. But speakers have a better idea now of what Gibtalks is about and what is expected of them. In earlier years I had to do more preparation with them to discuss what they’re talking about. Now they’re a little more secure of what’s expected of them.

“The audience has a better idea of what to expect too while the first few years they were trying to sound it out. In that sense there’s been a bit of progression.”


Saturday’s event is modelled on TED Talks where individuals share stories or subjects which they believe will be of interest to the community.

“Gibtalks generates a lot of discussion and we see in the lunch break that people are still at the John Mackintosh Hall talking about all that has been watched. So it is not just about the event and the speakers themselves but Gibraltar getting involved in dialogue which they might not do on a day-to-day basis.”

The programme is quite varied, with the possibility of having political, philosophical or artistic subject matter in the same event. Two politicians Dr Joseph Garcia and leader of the opposition Keith Azopardi will be taking the stand this year around so there might be something about Brexit, a popular subject at the moment.

“We’re quite fed up of Brexit anyway, so the rest of the speeches are about what the speakers want to talk about because that makes them more engaging,” said Felice. “Stephen Watley, for instance, is a story I am looking forward to. We all know how successful he has been in his particular fields but I didn’t know about the trauma he had through his injury.

“The fact he will share it openly will be very interesting, especially as he is such a young speaker. We have had two 17-year-olds before and someone of 89 years of age too.”

Gender equality

Some very high profile women have come to the Gibtalks stage already like Professor Daniella Tilbury, Mary Chiappe, Janet Howitt, Georgina Cassar and Kaiane Aldorino.

We make a consistent point of approaching high profile women who have stories to tell,” he said. “But we find it surprisingly difficult, as the women we approach seem to be less willing to take part. Perhaps that tells you something of the pressure women are under.

“Over the past five years under 60% of our speakers have been male. Women represent over half of the population so it shows we need to do more to address this situation. That is why this year, we have an equal balance of male and female speakers in the ten minute vox pop sessions.

“Co-education could change the dynamic a bit and will be exciting when it happens in September 2019. There will be different challenges, with some of the ones we face now not being so evident but we could be presented with different ones.”


You might think that in a small place like Gibraltar there would come a point where they would run out of people to talk but Felice does not believe that has occurred yet.

“We are looking to start repeating already,” he said. “But that is not because we have run out of speakers but because there are some people whose stories have evolved since the last talk. But everyone in Gibraltar has an amazing story to tell so it is more about those individuals making themselves known to us and them having the confidence to do it.

“What we would like ideally is to stop looking for speakers and that instead they start coming to us. Two-thirds of the people are those who we approach but we are finding that more and more people are coming out of the woodwork to put their names forward. That’s the way I hope it will go.

“Perhaps what we are running out of is high profile individuals. But this should be about everyone. So we want people who have their own story and there are already some who have expressed a desire to be involved next year.”


How does it feel to be a speaker anyway? Far from a nervy experience going up in front of so many people and being personal, Felice believes it can set them free of this social pressure.”

“The overwhelming majority of our speakers find it very liberating and relieving. Some of them get very nervous but when they give it a try they realise that it is not so bad as they thought it was. They get a lot out of it so it’s certainly something I would encourage more people to do.

“There might have been people who needed a lot of reassurance but they came out of it alright. It is definitely a preparation for young people to learn to communicate accurately. For the audience they learn to listen – in Gibraltar we are very willing to talk but not so much to listen – and then they reflect, all good skills to have.”

Gibtalks kicks off at 10am and goes on until 7pm with a lunch-break and breaks during the morning and afternoon sessions. Tickets cost £5 for the whole day (available here or at the door ) with punters able to go to the sessions they want to attend at the John Mackintosh Hall Theatre.

The full programme is listed below:

10:00 – 10:10 Julian Felice – Let’s Talk About Stats

10:15 – 10:30 Stanley Flower – A Parent’s Ordeal

10:35 – 10:50 Steven Walker – Addicted to Escaping Reality

10:55 – 11:05 Stuart Byrne – VP – Don’t DYS Einstein

11:10 – 11:25 Pro-Life Movement– Clare Bensadon – One of Us

11:25 – 11:40 BREAK

11:40 – 11:55 Keith Azopardi QC – Changing Society & The Importance of Positivity

12:00 – 12:10 Noemi Jimenez –VP- When Escaping Doesn’t Set You Free

12:15 – 12:30 Monica Ritchie – The Girl from North London

12:35 – 12:50 The Hon. Dr Joseph Garcia MP – Brexit: In, Out & Shake Our World About


14:00 – 14:15 Sonia Golt – Age Is Just a Number

14:20 – 14:35 Nathan Payas – Mindset

14:40 – 14:50 Nicole Stein-Jezulin – VP – Montessori: Introducing a Love of Learning

14:55 – 15:10 Pro Choice Movement – Rose Oliva – Am I Morally Obliged to Bear a Child?

15:10 – 15:25 BREAK

15:25 – 15:40 Tommy Finlayson – Memories

15:45 – 15:55 Tamsin Suarez – VP – The Strength of an Egg – A Parent’s Fragility and Strength When Faced With a Cancer Diagnosis

16:00 – 16:15 Stephen Whatley – If I Can Do It, Anyone Can

16:20 – 16:35 Lindsay Weston – My Gibraltar Story

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