Brandon Jones, founder of Gay Sitges Link and the Sitges English Theatre Company, received his British Empire Medal (BEM) from the British Ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, on Wednesday, during a ceremony at Queenz Restaurant.
The award had been given to Brandon for services to the British Community in Sitges, in The Queen’s last Birthday Honours List, announced in June 2022. A framed photograph of Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September 2022, was placed on the table at the ceremony. The British Consul in Barcelona, Lloyd Milen, also attended the event, as did the deputy mayor of Sitges and councillor for tourism, Luis Miguel García, in representation of the Ajuntament.
It was the first visit to Sitges by the British Ambassador Hugh Elliott, who said ‘I can understand why so many people want to live here’. Before the medal ceremony, he also visited the Town Hall to sign the visitor’s book.
Brandon is the longstanding co-owner of Casablanca cocktail bar, and a stalwart of the LGBTI+ community in Sitges, investing much of his time and energy into a variety of local charitable and cultural projects.
In 1999, Brandon founded, and later became Chairman of, The Sitges English Theatre Company. In 2011, he co-founded Gay Sitges Link (now known as Sitges Colors Link) to provide help and assistance to the LGBTI+ community, and with his support it has grown exponentially to offer emotional, psychological and legal support, rapid HIV testing and social activities.
He is also a key proponent of cultural interchange. In 2012, he launched the Irish-Catalan Festival in Sitges, celebrating Irish culture and bringing over 700 visitors from the island of Ireland each year. And, building on this success he launched the Welsh-Catalan Festival in 2019, promoting historical and cultural links between Wales and Catalonia.
Ambassador Elliott said: ‘Brandon is a true cultural ambassador and his annual festivals have strengthened links between the UK and Spain; in particular between Wales and the island of Ireland, and Catalonia. But it is for his pioneering charity work with Gay Sitges Link that Brandon most deserves to be recognised. This honour is very richly deserved.’
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