British Ambassador Presents Medal To Lanzarote Resident

The British ambassador, Hugh Elliot, arrived on Lanzarote recently to present Lancelot’s English editor with a British Empire Medal.

Larry Yaskiel is the editor of the English Language publication of Lancelot, a glossy quarterly magazine full of socio-historical information as well as features on the geography of the island. After receiving the medal of the British Empire from the ambassador to Spain, Mr. Yaskiel expressed his gratitude to the vast communication group of which Lancelot is an important part. It was in the group´s offices, located on the ground floor of the Arrecife Gran Hotel that the presentation took place.

The highest representative of British diplomacy on the island didn´t hesitate to affirm the reasons why Larry Yaskiel is a worthy recipient of such a high distinction. “It is a recognition for his work to weave ties between the British community and the Canary Islands, especially with his beloved Lanzarote, over four decades,” said Hugh Elliott, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Spain

Larry Yaskiel himself referred to the difficulty of being distinguished in this way by the British Royal House. “There are journalists who have been writing, British journalists, since the seventies and this is the first time that an award like this has been granted in Spain,” he remarked, explaining that, here, the work of a person is valued in the community in which he lives.

The Ambassador highlighted Larry Yaskiel’s effort and the value of sustaining a British-language publication on an island like Lanzarote for almost 40 years. 

“For me Lancelot is extraordinary and unique´, the Ambassador said. ´It is an English version so varied that it helps locate British visitors and residents, and introduces them to the island culture, makes it unique.”

Hugh Elliot rightly highlighted the importance of not only Larry but also his wife Liz serving in the capacity they have and the Ambassador also confessed himself a lover of our island that he has visited  so frequently whilst exercising his professional position as ambassador since 2020.

We had learned something of this event when a couple of days earlier we had received a comuniqué from Larry, plastered with words like Confidential and do not divulge until after event !

What event? The only information Larry let us have was that he was inviting us to an event at the company´s head office at 9.30 am Monday 30th January. He did advise that dress would be smart casual and that the event would last for around two hours.

Having spent the weekend wondering what this was all about, we arrived at the offices of Lancelot Medios on time, stepped through the open front door and were immediately greeted by Liz and Larry, who quickly explained that this was Larry´s investiture day following his recent notification that he was to be awarded his BEM. Larry and Liz told us they had invited us to be part of a small group of friends and colleagues to see this proud occasion.

There were television camera operators recording it all and a journalist asking questions and making notes. We noticed a small table in a corner with a photograph of our late Queen, who had ratified in her final Honours list the medal that now was also being shown on the table. Larry was shortly to be presented with that and a copy of a certificate detailing the reasons for the award. 

We had first met Larry when we attended one of his book launches a few years ago and gradually became good friends. As we all learned more about each other I became fascinated by his previous career in music that took him on from being a night club doorman in Germany to becoming a  record label executive, working with Herb Alpert who was the A of A & M records. Larry had worked with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Peter Frampton, albeit in a business capacity rather than a musical role !. 

In fact, Larry and I have since pieced together that over a couple of decades we must have been working from the same ladder in that same music industry, although I was several rungs lower and couldn´t catch his ankles even with my arms outstretched. I was a freelance journalist grabbing brief interviews where I could with the kind of artists Larry was working with on a continual basis. Now, every time we meet we seem to uncover another mutual acquaintance, and even today we still swap occasional e mails introducing old and new music to each other.

The ceremonial part of this award today was precise with a good shade of prestige and there was an obvious warmth between presenter and receiver as Hugh Elliot spoke knowledgably to and about our new BEM. What was noticeable at this juncture was how much obvious friendship radiated already between a few members of ownership and management of the company and their staff and Larry and Liz. Colleagues of Larry warmly congratulated him when the presentation was over and many similarly acknowledged how much Liz is loved and respected for her hard work and friendly approach.

So, with all the protocol observed and concluded we thought we ought to be leaving but Jackie Stevenson Britsh Consul of Gran Canaria, serving very effectively as a kind of PA to the Ambassador,  whispered to us that Larry and Liz had invited a small party for a buffet on the seventeenth floor of the hotel and we would be welcome guests !

The view from this high up was extraordinary, on one side looking out all the way to San Bartolome, on another side out over the airport and then up into the mountains behind. An even more interesting view was of a fabulous buffet of elevenses, including salmon and cream cheeses on Italian bread,  and tuna and sweet-corn and others with a cucumber filling, as well as croissants and yoghurt, fresh fruit drinks and copious cups of coffee.

Jackie and the ambassador put everyone at ease, with the ambassador sliding easily into interpreter mode to make sure that nothing was lost in the Spanish-English translations. Jorgi Coll, the overall editor of all the various output formats of Lancelot Medios, which include print, on line presence, television and radio. Whilst some of what was spoken of over the dining table must remain on the dining table, I think it is safe to say that Larry regaled us with tales Of Racquel Welch, filming on Lanzarote in One Million Years BC, and Hollywood film star Rita Hayworth and of the late author Ernest Hemingway, and his connections to Lanzarote.

As I was listening to these tales I looked around the table and realised a genuinely strange coincidence. I had arrived on Lanzarote half way through a book I was writing at the time that was part fiction, tracing the integration of Spanish and Canarian sounds into the Tex Mex music prevalent when thy first Lanzaorotan emigrants settled in those parts. I realised that to make the fictive part more authentic I needed more Spanish names for people and places and I found under the strap line of an old Lancelot magazine the names of management and staff. I borrowed those names wholesale for some of my characters and as, years later, I now announced to all of Larry´s guests, all those characters were sitting around this table !!

Perhaps the management and staff at The Gran Hotel are used to serving for these kind of events, but I have to say their service was civilised and smiley and friendly and added to the occasion.

We know Larry, a humble man, was nevertheless very proud to receive not only such formal recognition but also to find affirmation of how affectionately well-regarded, and deservedly so, are he and Liz by friends and work colleagues.

It transpired that Mr. and Mrs Yaskiel had created this small guest list on a theme of ´writing´, and so round the table along with Hugh Elliot and Jackie Stevenson were Jorge Coll of Lancelot Medios and, of course. Larry and Liz, producers of the Lancelot magazine, as well as Jose Huan Romero, Headmaster of Tahiche C.E.I.P Cabrera César Manrique,  who is creating a translation of a book by Larry on that early emigration I mentioned earlier of Lanzarote people to San Antonio in Texas. Andres Martinon head of the Lancelot Medios News Section was also there as was Betty Romero also part of that organisation serving as a herad graphiuc designer at Lancelot Medios. Then there was Dee and I, photographer and editor of Sidetracks And Detours, our daily arts blog which includes Lanzarote events, and also reports exclusively on Lanzarote Arts events in a weekly column for Lanzarote Information.

Larry and Liz had prepared well, because conversation rocked and rolled easily around the table, perhaps because we all shared a love of writing, and speaking for myself this is one story I am delighted to write  not only for my own Sidetracks And Detours daily blog but also for this column Miguel so kindly offers me at Lanzarote Information

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