More than a thousand people packed into Malaga's congress centre on Monday for the Malagueños del Año awards, given by this newspaper's Spanish sister, SUR.
In an event resumed after a break since 2011, recognition was given to outstanding members of the local community in six different categories. There to witness the ceremony were the president of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz, the president of the Malaga provincial government, Elias Bendodo, and the mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, among other authorities.
The award in the Sports category was shared by past and present faces of Spanish tennis, Manolo Santana, and Alejandro Davidovich.
Santana, whose win at Wimbledon in 1966 was just one of many titles, was also recognised for his commitment to Malaga province and particularly Marbella, where he opened his racquets club in 1997. The Madrid-born player said he was “very proud” to receive the award and admitted that he fell in love with the province of Malaga when he came here to play a small tournament 37 years ago. He also said how delighted he was to share the award with Davidovich, the 18-year-old from Rincón de la Victoria, who was crowned Wimbledon boys' champion this summer. Despite his Russian origins, the young player stressed that he was Spanish and 'Malagueño' and that he was pleased to win the award alongside the “legend” Santana.
In the Tourism section the award was given to the Malaga's Miramar hotel, which reopened last year as a five-star luxury establishment 90 years after the building received its first guests, in recognition of the project's sensitivity and respect for local traditions. The Santos hotel group's chairman, José Luis Santos, said that the hotel had been one of his family firm's most important projects and that he was proud of being able to “recover part of the history of Malaga”.
An Estepona businessman who started out with a small workshop and now runs three of the Costa's biggest hypermarkets was the recipient of the award in the Business section. Aurelio Martín's firm, Costasol de Hipermercados, holds the franchise to manage the Carrefour stores in Estepona, Mijas and Torremolinos and was praised for his ability to preserve the spirit of a family firm within a multinational giant.
Innovation and professional and academic achievement in the field of medicine earned neurosurgeon Miguel Ángel Arráez the award in the Science category. The doctor whose feats include the removal of a tumour from a musician's brain while the patient was playing the saxophone, said that the award was “a real Christmas present” and that he would continue to work with “strength and pride, but also with the humility of a doctor”.
Flor de Torres, the award winner in the Society section, has devoted her career to the fight for equality and against sexual or gender discrimination and violence. The public prosecutor who now works in the gender violence courts, dedicated her prize to Ana Orantes, the woman who was murdered by her ex-husband after going public with her case of abuse, now 20 years ago. De Torres described Orantes as a “heroine who lit the path for the fight against violence against women”, before naming other more recent victims.
The award-winner best known to many in the audience, however, was actor and comedian Dani Rovira, the recipient of the prize in the Culture category. The Malaga-born star of films such as Spanish Affair (Ocho Apellidos Vascos) was chosen not only for his professional career but also for his commitment to charitable causes through his foundation. He dedicated his award to Pablo Ráez, the young leukaemia sufferer who lost his battle earlier this year and the comedian Chiquito de la Calzada who died recently.
The president of the Junta closed the ceremony with words of recognition for the achievements of all the winners and stressed the importance of a free and critical press as a guarantee for democracy.