St. Christopher Awards were presented on the birthday of the city of Vilnius

A new tradition was introduced in the capital – this year, the 20th, anniversary, St. Christopher awards were presented on the 25th of January, on the birthday of Vilnius, rather than presenting them in December by tradition. On this day, 10 residents of the city were specially honoured for their merits in the areas of culture, science, art, sports, social and other fields. Statues of St. Christopher, the patron of the city of Vilnius and all the travellers, were traditionally awarded by the Mayor of Vilnius Remigijus Šimašius.

“I am glad that Vilnius is rich in people who take on the heavy burden of Christopher, which they did not have but chose to carry, because this is a beautiful and meaningful idea. And us having here today the ten most prominent people, whom we can award with St. Christopher statues as a symbol of Vilnius, as a symbol of a burden, which they were not afraid to responsibly assume and carry even when this was hard to do, is even more beautiful. As the Mayor of the most fantastic city, today I have the privilege to thank them on behalf of the entire city and residents of the city for changing the face of the capital “, – said the Mayor of Vilnius.

More than 50 candidates were nominated this year – representatives of cultural and artistic spheres for the most part, with 10 most worthy ones traditionally selected from among them.

Airinė Palšytė, the World’s Youth and Lithuanian Champion and record holder, was awarded the statue of St. Christopher for her merits in sports. Last year was very successful for the athlete: she improved the country’s record and achieved the best result of the season in the world, having jumped 2 meters high. In March, she became the best athlete of the old continent for the second time. In 2017, A. Palšytė became the first representative of Lithuania to win the gold medal at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade (Serbia), jumping to the height of 2.01 m and achieving the best result of the season in the world. She was also elected the best athlete of Lithuania of 2017.

The initiator and the long-time organizer of the night festival of culture “Culture Night” Daina Urbanavičienė was presented with the statue of St. Christopher for the initiatives that change the face of the city. For eleven consecutive years, the real enthusiast and ball of energy Daina has lived to keep culture of the capital city alive, to help residents and guests of Vilnius discover art, engage in art not only by observing it, but also by establishing a dialogue with artists. At her initiative, “Culture Night” was admitted to the international “La Nuit Blanche” network, which combines the best world cultural nightlife festivals, in 2013. Since 2007, D. Urbanavičienė has organized “Street Music Days” events.

The founder of VšĮ “Tarptautinis maratonas” (SE International Marathon), active marathon enthusiast and marathon runner Ignas Staškevičius was awarded St. Christopher’s statue for his business merits in Vilnius. At the initiative of I. Staškevičius, mass running was established in 2001 racing over the distance of 10 km. The marathon distance has been run since 2004.

Prof. Dr. Nijolė Drazdienė was awarded for her significant contribution to improving the health system of new-borns and children in Lithuania, reducing the incidence and mortality of new-borns and infants. The professor prepared and took part in the implementation of the Perinatology and Hereditary Diseases Program of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Lithuania, she was the head of the Perinatology Program Coordination Board of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Lithuania, and prepared the State Mother and Child Health Program. Nijolė Drazdienė has been popularizing paediatric and neonatal science achievements by reading lectures in events for parents, radio and TV shows; she is a member of the editorial board of parenting magazine “Naujagimis” (Newborn) and a consultant for the book for parents “Laukiame naujagimio” (Looking Forward to Meeting our Newborn). She has held events for parents of preterm babies and hearing-impaired children together with the parent organizations “Neišnešiotukas” (Pre-term Baby) and “Pagava”.

The public institution “Architectural Foundation” was awarded the statue of St. Christopher for spreading the word about the architecture of Vilnius. The institution operating for more than ten years has been actively implementing all its initiatives in the areas of architecture, education and culture. The Fund brings together active architects A. Ambrasas, A. Karalius, G. Klimavičius, G. Čaikauskas, S. Kuncevičius, D. Osteikas, R. Palekas, S. Pamerneckis, M. Šaliamoras, P. Trimonis and L. Tuleikis, who arranged the exhibition “Žvilgsnis į save” (A Look At Yourself) (2003). Each edition of their publication of the Vilnius Architectural Guide (Vilnius 1900-2016. An Architectural Guide) encourages getting to know new, inexhaustible layers of the city’s history. Many residents of the city already love the “Open House Vilnius” festival organized by the “Architectural Foundation”, which is a festival of open architecture, and will invite everyone to get acquainted with the most interesting buildings of Vilnius and get to know their stories this spring.

This year, the Polish song and dance ensemble “Wilia” was awarded for fostering tradition and the sense of community. It is the oldest Polish ensemble founded in 1955 at the initiative of graduates from Polish schools. The ensemble has participated in various national and international festivals and competitions, not only making the name of the state of Lithuania, but also of the Polish national minority in the region of Vilnius, known.

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla was awarded the statue of St. Christopher for her merits in music. The conductor is the first woman to become director and art director of Birmingham (United Kingdom) Symphony Orchestra. In December, the influential publication “Politico” included Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla in the list of the most important people in Europe of 2018. The conductor ranks 27 among the people to affect and mark this year in Europe by their decisions and accomplishments! M. Gražinytė-Tyla is introduced in global rankings as a foreign talent from Lithuania. Since Mirga herself could not attend the festival this time, the actress and director Birutė Marcinkevičiūtė claimed the statue.

Mūza Rubackytė Golay was awarded the statue of St. Christopher for her merits in culture and art. The internationally recognized Lithuanian pianist, pedagogue and cultural activist, winner and founder of many international competitions, devotes a lot of attention to the promotion of Lithuanian music and the formation of a positive image of the state and the capital of Lithuania in foreign countries in various fields of her activities. The “Vilnius Piano Festival” initiated by the artist celebrated its 5th anniversary last year.

Associate professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and psychologist Dr. Paulius Skruibys received yet another award for social and civic activities. Having held the post of Director of “Jaunimo linija” (Youth Line) for 20 years, he has contributed to the creation of the first strategy for the prevention of suicide in Lithuania since spring of 2016. He moderated the discussion at the first international conference “Evidence-Based Methods of Suicide Intervention in Practice” held by the Vilnius City Municipality together with the State Centre for Mental Health, the Vilnius University and VšĮ Vilniaus miesto psichikos sveikatos centras (Vilnius City Mental Health Center). He developed the strategy of suicide prevention of the city of Vilnius for 2016-2019.

The team of students of Vilnius University “Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM” was awarded for achievements in science.  In November 2017, these young scientists rewrote the history of Lithuanian life sciences. Taking part in the prestigious, largest international synthetic biology competition “iGEM” for the third time only, VU students won the grand prize of the competition, defeating more than 300 teams from the world’s best-known universities. The “Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM” project impressed not only the commission of judges, but also other contestants and synthetic biology scientists. They created a flexible system for managing a number of copies of different groups of plasmids called SynORI. Plasmids are circular DNA structures that transmit various genetic information and change cellular functions.

Residents of Vilnius – active inhabitants of the city, various organizations and communities – nominated the candidates for St. Christopher awards for the 20th time.

The Commission traditionally evaluated nominees for the awards: Edita Tamošiūnaitė – Deputy Mayor of Vilnius City Municipality; Gediminas Gelgotas – a composer, founder of the New Ideas Chamber Orchestra (NI & Co), art director and conductor; Ieva Pakarklytė – Advisor to the Mayor of Vilnius City Municipality; Lina Kačišytė – Olympic Champion, Member of the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee, Member of the Lithuanian Olympic Association; Linas Naujokaitis – architect, Chair of the Vilnius branch of the Lithuanian Architects’ Union; Arminta Saladžienė – CEO of securities services of the stock exchange company “Nasdaq Vilnius”; Vytautas Mitalas – Chair of the Committee of Culture, Education and Sports of the Vilnius City Municipality Council; Dr Česlovas Venclovas – Head of the Department of Bioinformatics, Institute of Biotechnology, Vilnius University; Edmundas Jakilaitis – journalist, TV host at the Lithuanian National Radio and Television; Kęstutis Štaras – Director of the Public Health Center “Centro Poliklinika”; Valdemaras Kaupinis – Director of Vilnius Mykolas Birziška Gymnasium; Renata Brasel – Lithuanian-Polish cultural and public figure and Alina Pūrienė – Director of “Žalgiris” clinics of Vilnius University Hospital.

Actor Rolandas Kazlas created the festive mood and hosted the event, singers “The Amazing Cello”, Jurga Šeduikytė and band “Subtilu Z” entertained the guests and winners of the event having created and performed the song about the creation of the city of Vilnius specially for the occasion; the soloist Dovilė Kazonaitė and accordionist Tadas Motiečius played a special piece.