AND THE LEGENDARY LARRY
and Norman Warwick listening in
The British Ambassador, Hugh Eliott (left) arrived on Lanzarote recently to present Lancelot’s English editor with a British Empire Medal
Hugh was appointed Her Majesty´s Ambassador to Spain and non-resident Ambassador to Andorra in August 2019. Prior to this, he was Director for Communications and Stakeholders at the Department for Exiting the European Union.
The Ambassador represents His Majesty The King and the UK government in the country to which they are appointed. They are responsible for the direction and work of the Embassy and its Consulates, including political work, trade and investment, press and cultural relations, and visa and consular services.
The Embassy pursues Britain´s national interests and project the UK as a force for good in the world. Indeed, the Embassy promotes the interests of British citizens, safeguards the UK’s security, defends its values, reduces poverty and tackles global challenges with Great Britain´s international partners.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is a ministerial department, supported by 12 agencies and public bodies.
We should not forget that we speak of ´the art of diplomacy.´ People do not fall into this role by chance, but are carefully selected for a wide range of skills. Certainly Mr. Eliott´s earlier career paths would seem to have supplied him with a wide skill-set. Immediately prior to accepting the Ambassadorship he was already a Director Of Communication and Stakeholders for the Department for Exiting The European Union, having previously worked for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office as Director of International Agreements.
He has worked for lengthy periods, too. in Madrid, Paris and Buenos Aries and is fluent in a number of languages.
Larry Yaskiel (far right and also show at the top of the page with his award) 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 Eliott, 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 says, 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 Eliott 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 communiqué 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 the head office of the Lancelot Medios Group 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 MBE. Larry and Liz told us they had invited us to be part of a small group of friends and colleagues to see this momentous occasion.
Lancelot press consists of 2 products: Lancelot, a monthly newspaper in Spanish, free, in colour, with a circulation of 8,000 copies and distributed in more than 300 points throughout the island; and English Lancelot, a quarterly magazine in English (since 1984) with some 3,500 readers per magazine.
Lancelot Medios , created in 1981, so currently celebrating more than forty year of being established , is the most important media group in Lanzarote and one of the most important in the Canary Islands. Its channels include 1 television, 2 digital, 2 radios, 1 newspaper in Spanish and 1 magazine in English.
Lancelot TV is the leading local television in Lanzarote with a 5.7% daily share compared to national channels. It is also the local television in the Canary Islands with the largest audience and the one with the largest local audiovisual programming, with some 20 programs on its schedule.
LancelotDigital.com is the fastest growing digital newspaper in Lanzarote. In 2021 it received almost 9 million visits, with more than 14 million page views and has more than 40,000 followers on social networks.
RadioMarcaLanzarote.com is a recently created sports digital (September 2016). It closed 2021 with an average of 10,000 monthly visits with more than 3,000 followers on social networks.
Radio Lancelot consists of 4 legal dials covering 2 radios: Lancelot Radio (90.2 FM -central zone-, 91.3 FM -north zone- and 106.9 FM -south zone-) and Marca Lanzarote radio (104.5 FM -central zone-). Radio listeners in Lanzarote slightly exceed about 17,000 daily radio listeners (according to data from the 3rd wave EGM 2021).
– Lancelot Radio, with 10,000 daily listeners, is the radio station in Lanzarote with the most content and local programming.
– Radio Marca Lanzarote, with 7,000 daily listeners.
Also since November Lancelot Radio has been marketing the 2 Kiss FM licenses in Lanzarote (96.5 FM in the central zone and 103.1 FM in the southern zone), with 3,000 daily listeners (from Monday to Friday according to data from the 3rd wave EGM 2021).
Lancelot Medios is also present on the social networks Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Flickr.
There were, therefor, television camera operators recording it all and a press journalist and radio technician recording that 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.
My wife, Dee and I had first met Larry and Liz 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 also worked with the likes of Jim 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.
All the guests (Jorge Coll, José Juan Romero, Headmaster Tahiche C.E.I.P Cabrera, Tahiche. César Manrique High School, Translater of The British Connection´, Betty Romero, English Lancelot Graphic Designer 30 years´, Andres Martinon head of the Lancelot Medios News Section, and Dee and I, delighted to be sharing in their company as representatives of Sidetracks & Detours and What´s on Lanzarote Information) chatted amicably to Larry and perhaps all of us all had been as amazed as we were at the dignity of the occasion and how it was delivered with somehow not only aplomb but also with and appropriate light touch for such a humble recipient. 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 MBE. What was noticeable at this juncture was how much genuine 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, British Vice Consul, Las Palmas, serving very unobtrusively but effectively as a kind of PA to the Ambassador, whispered to Dee that Larry and Liz had invited a small party for a buffet on the seventeenth floor of the hotel and we would be welcome !!
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. Jorge Coll, a director and 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.
Larry also presented the Ambassador with a very special history book (right) telling the story of the trial for treason of Sir Walter Raleigh emanating from an incident that took place on 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 the first Lanzarotan emigrants settled in those parts. I realised I needed more Spanish names for people and places and 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 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 Eliott 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 head graphic 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,
The Mayoress of Arrecife, Astrid Pérez, (shown centre, right, with Larry and Liz) has also congratulated the editor of the publication Lancelot in English , Larry Yaskiel, after receiving the British Empire medal from the United Kingdom ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott.
Astrid Pérez mentioned the importance of having such a varied version in English on the Island and congratulated both Larry and his wife Liz for the effort made over 40 years to inform English-speaking visitors and residents of everything that happens in Lanzarote. “His work as an English journalist on our Island has been fantastic,” said the mayor of the capital.
´It should be noted that Larry Yaskiel is the first English journalist to receive the British Empire medal in Spain and has been very grateful to be distinguished in this way by the British Royal House, explaining that they evaluate the work of a person in the community in which they live. Larry has been very proud of this recognition and commented with enthusiasm that he will continue working so that the British always feel at home in Lanzarote.
Remember that the United Kingdom ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, pointed out during the presentation ceremony for this award, which took place on Monday in Arrecife, stressed that “it is a recognition that has been given to him for his work to weave ties between the British community and the Canary Islands, especially with its beloved Lanzarote, over four decades”.
I´d like to close this article by thanking Larry and Liz for inviting us and to thank the dignitaries in attendance and our fellow guests for making us feel so welcome, for sharing stories and for affording me this opportunity to thank Larry and Liz for their friendship. I speak not only for Sidetracks And Detours but also, I´m sure, for Lanzarote Information, in saying he is both proactive and reactive to shifting cultural attitudes and is an integral part of this island´s history.
Also making history in a different way is Steve Bewick on his Hot Biscuits mix cloud programme by going international. Next week the presenter takes his show to Wales to listen to Burum, a truly unique Welsh band that fuse both the Welsh folk tradition and jazz. Burum’s repertoire is drawn from Welsh traditional music, adapted and re-imagined for a modern jazz sextet. Joining them on the show are samples from Thana Alexa, Carole Nelson Trio and Baiana. There is also some Brazil soul via the Liverpool jazz scene. If this looks interesting share with the link with your friends and listen in 24/07 at