The successful conclusion of the Monte San Martino Trust’s £1m fund-raising Appeal was acknowledged by two receptions that the Italian Ambassador kindly held at the splendid Italian embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square in November.
The Appeal had been launched to safeguard the long-term future of the study bursaries that the Trust awards to young Italians. These represent a thank-you to the Italian country people who risked their lives to shelter escaping Allied prisoners of war after Italy signed an Armistice in 1943. Every year, about 25 students come to England to spend a month on a language course in a college in London, or at Wheatley, near Oxford.
During the four-year course of the Appeal, many individuals and a considerable number of fund-granting charities and institutions contributed most generously, testifying to the widespread endorsement of the Trust’s objectives. The embassy receptions, hosted by Ambassador Pasquale Terracciano and Signora Terracciano, were in appreciation of the kindness and support shown by so many people.
Ambassador Terracciano told guests that he had first learned about the Trust a couple of years previously through Vanni Treves, who chaired the Appeal on behalf of MSMT and who, in 2014, was awarded the honour of Cavaliere Ufficiale by the President of Italy. “I fell in love with this initiative and it is close to my heart,” said Mr Terracciano. “It was the best way to react to a very unfortunate story, that of 1940-1943 [when Italy was at war with Britain]. Supporters of the Monte San Martino Trust recognised a moral debt to those Italians who risked their lives and houses and they decided to keep alive the bond with Italy.”
In further remarks, the Ambassador likened the £1m fund to a “permanent and everlasting love letter that fits very well within the long love story of our two peoples. Waging war had not been the choice of the Italian people, it was the choice of one man, and when they became free to express their choice they did it in the right way.”
Thanking him, Mr Treves said: “The Appeal could not have succeeded without the Ambassador and Signora Terracciano who have been wonderful in offering hospitality, and without the help of our supporters.”
The success of the Appeal has lifted MSMT’s funds to a total of approximately £1.4m. Interest from this will not only help pay the costs of the annual bursaries but will also enable the Trust to pursue other projects. The Trustees, working with Keith Killby, the former prisoner of war who founded MSMT in 1989, have formed three working groups in order to carry out a five-year strategy plan. One is to concentrate on making the Trust better known within Italy –something that the Ambassador has also stressed as desirable; another is to find a way of making MSMT’s archives more accessible to historians and to individuals researching family history; and a third is to explore ways of commemorating the prisoners and their Italian saviours.