At the European Parliament Office, Richard Demarco received the European Citizens’ Medal, making history as the first Scotsman ever to receive the award. A group of us were asked by Demarco himself to catch this memorable life event on camera. At 10AM Ali, Xela, Andrew, and I set off for the Parliament office.
On our way into the Parliament Building, we ran into Dave from Summerhall TV, John Martin, one of the Traverse Theatre’s founders, and multiple people Richard had invited to witness the event. After a few moments of confusion, we figured out the entrance for the European Parliament and were led to the space where Demarco would receive the award by a security guard.
Earlier in the month, on our first day out in Edinburgh, Ali and I had expressed interest in visiting the Parliament building, so we were fascinated at the opportunity to get our visit. The room was small. With only a three rows of chairs, the event was intimate and seemed to be reserved for Demarco’s friends and family. The formal ceremony would take place in October. Indeed, everyone who was in attendance greeted Demarco with a hug or kiss on the cheek before they took their seats.
Dave started setting up his camera and equipment in the back and asked for assistance. Since Ali had been given the task of taking pictures, I volunteered to help him. My mission: hold the fuzzy microphone as close to the podium as possible during the ceremony. A small task it seemed, but five minutes into the ceremony, the microphone grew heavy. It did not deter me from listening to the introduction by Struan Stevenson, a Scottish MEP (Member of European Parliament). Stevenson was the man who nominated Demarco for the medal. He gave a small introduction of Demarco before inviting him to the podium to receive his award.
Demarco smiled and waved his medal around excitedly. “I’ve waited 83 years for this…the great culture that binds us together as Europeans is also the culture of the world. There is no Polish art, or Scottish art, or English art, or Italian art. There is only art." He stated grandly. His speech lasted twenty minutes, and more than once, he asserted his distaste for stand-up comedy at the Fringe. At the end of his speech, he received a standing ovation from the room. As soon as the ceremony concluded, Demarco’s friends and family shook his hand enthusiastically. His face was filled with gratitude, and for the rest of my time there, he smiled from cheek to cheek. I felt honored to witness the occasion.