Spotlight On…Aldo Zammit
Answering to an unknown phone number on my mobile has become a must in my profession and this time admittedly, receiving a phone call from the Institute asking me if I’m interested to share my passion and involvement in my village feast with the readers of The Accountant caught me by surprise; although I accepted the invitation enthusiastically.
Before going into the subject I would like to briefly introduce myself to the readers. Basically I graduated as B.A. Hons in Accountancy in 1997 and initiated my career with Grant Thornton as a senior auditor. After obtaining the warrant to practice as a Certified Public Accountant and Auditor I moved to the Tax Compliance Unit within the Ministry of Finance and thereafter joined KSi Malta whereby I was appointed partner to the firm and still occupy this position.
Going back to the subject of this article, I have been involved in my village feast, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Zurrieq since I was a young boy at the age of ten or even less. At the time my father was also involved in the band club and it only came natural for him to take me with him and participate in the activities organised by the band club. In particular, I recall one of the activities which involved the annual christmas party held for children during which my father and I used to take our home cinema projector (the old 8mm film) and display a couple of cartoon clips on the big screen for the joy of the young ones. At that time this offered us immense delight given that the concept of going to a cinema was less common to what we are accustomed to today.
Years went by and I grew up being part of the band club by attending and volunteering in all areas until the 11th April of 1993. This date marked the formal constitution of the youth section within the band club which provided us a better possibility to work and put forward our ideas through the appropriate channels. I was appointed chairman of the committee in September 1993 which position I served until September 1996. In the months preceding the formation of the committee, I was also involved in the band club’s project of building two stores that are used to date as the main stores whereby all the street decorations are grouped all together in one place. This project was of particular interest to me given that street decorations have been of enjoyment and self-fulfilment to me from when I was young to date.
Upon the formal institution of the youth committee, we took the planning and building of the stores more seriously and determined that they would officially be opened for the 2012 feast. This materialised and that year all the street decorations were dismantled and taken to their new resting place. One of the main challenges that myself and the other members encountered, involved the restoration of a set of thirteen pedestals that were over forty years old as it was about time that these were to be restored to their former glory. It was during that year that I started learning and grasping the art of gildership and to date I am part of the team that is essentially responsible for such work. From that time onwards I have been involved in the planning and building of another floor within the stores in 1998 and also in the building of two additional floors in 2009. Thus all the street decorations, irrespective if old or new, the yearly restorations thereof and the actual exertion of new projects can be found in one building consisting of five floors.
1993 marked the acquisition of the club’s premises. This event was an immense achievement for all members of the club especially for me since at that time I was chairman of the youth committee. I still remember that date at the notary’s office upon the signing of the sale agreement. At that time it was my first experience to witness the purchase of property and nowadays I get tired of reading such contracts! The club’s premises were thereafter demolished and rebuilt and I consider myself lucky and proud that I actively took part in each process that was necessary.
At that time as a group of young enthusiasts we joined the confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Zurrieq and to date we still take part in the annual procession and others that are held during the year. Apart from the external activities that I am involved in, there is still the devotional element that guides us and helps us out throughout our projects.
As years went by and the club’s members and projects increased, I left the youth committee and joined a new sub-committee responsible only for the street decorations in 2010 in which I am still actively involved to date. The organisation of the traditional Maltese feast involves plenty of rational, planning and organisation. Only actively involved persons in such band clubs can really know and appreciate what is required and how much time consuming it is to organise the yearly village feast. The one week celebrations that are held every year are the result of a whole year of intensive voluntary work that is carried out by numerous people who cater for all the aspects that constitute our feast. With respect to the street decorations, in particular this is a never ending job and there is no cut off line for. Failure of a single street to light up would mean a failure from our end and a sign of disrespect for our band club.
Since when I was young I took part in the preparations of the street decorations and it was a must for me during the month of June and July to attend every day to decorate, and throughout the early days of August to eventually dismantle all the setup street decorations. I really enjoyed taking part in these activities and year after year it was always satisfying to attend the feast surrounded by all those decorations, knowing that I have been part of the team that set them up. During the other months I regularly worked to restore the old decorations so that these will be shining ‘new’ for the next feast.
Since I have been a member of the street decorations committee there have been tremendous achievements in our band club. Several projects have been terminated albeit there are still plenty in the pipeline. In fact our committee already has plans in store for the next seven or eight years ahead. Such projects require considerable financing and resources and that is why it requires several years for some of them to be completed. Admittedly, even if we had all the finances necessary, plenty of time would still be required in order to complete all intended projects given that the work of craftsmanship takes considerable time and in our country we lack artists that can deliver what is required in acceptable time frames.
Something interesting that I wish to remark to the readers is that in order to assemble all the street decorations that will be used for the feast we take not less than six full weeks and thereafter a couple of weeks to take down everything and put the decorations back in the stores. Many could argue that this is quite a considerable time but one has to consider that most of the work is done after working hours. Since we have invested in various projects throughout the years we had no option but to invest also in machinery. Today our band club owns two heavy weight lorries, a fork lifter and a tower ladder. Obviously, despite my rather desk oriented career, I still had to learn how to operate this machinery and nowadays we use the equipment efficiently and safely to avoid any accidents.
As I said earlier on, the art of street decorations is never ending. My friends and I have several dreams which with the passing of time have become or are becoming projects. Sketches are made and a vision is established. Thereafter there is a long trip ahead of financing, jotting notes, finding the right people for the project, meetings and discussions, revisions and finally try to make time frames. To this day it is unimaginable to think that we are towards the end of our projects. As time goes by it has become a struggle to maintain what we created and what we have in the pipeline but up till now we are still managing to keep everything updated, keeping abreast, and at the same time give the time and attention needed to our families. Indeed, going back in time, I have no regrets for the sacrifices I made. I would like to finish this article by thanking my fiancÃ©e Sabrina for her support and wishing good luck to us since we will tie the knot this year in June and move to our new house which is still in progress at the time!