Elisa Provini Walker – dame extraordinaire British-Italian philanthropist Elisa Walker is a true dame extraordinaire.
She has dedicated a life-time to the service of society, which is why she may count among the many prestigious awards bestowed upon her that of Chevalier and Officier, and even the honor of Commandeur in the Order des Palmes Academiques, received on 10 December 2011.
In awarding Elisa Provini Walker with honour, Monsieur Laurent Burin des Roziers, Cultural Counsellor at the French Embassy in London, highlighted the many important steps that led Elisa Walker to be considered one of the most illustrious representatives of Italy abroad, by virtue of her ongoing commitment to the promotion of Italian culture and the common good.
Of great importance are Elisa Provini Walker’s outstanding studies of modern languages and literature, and, of course, her predilection towards the Anglo-Saxon world. A lead figure at the renowned Bocconi University in Milan, she was many years responsible for the English summer courses.
After a successful collaboration that saw the publication of the first major English-Italian dictionary (now known under the name of Garzanti), in 1962 Elisa Provini Walker arrived at the Lycee Francais Charles de Gaulle, London, as a teacher of Italian, where she remained for thirty-five years. It is in this role that emerged with strength and transparency her pedagogical skills.
She soon became much loved and appreciated by all her students with whom she shared the same values and principles that have always characterized her cultural vocation.
Worthy of note is also the recent news that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has authorised Elisa Privini Walker to wear her decorations in public at any time, a marked exception, therefore, from the general rule that foreign decorations may be worn only on public holidays, and inside the premises of diplomatic missions.
Another reason for Italy to feel proud is represented by yet another very important honor bestowed upon Elisa Provini Walker, this time by the City of London. The Freedom of the City was established way back in 1237 to reward worthy British and Commonwealth citizens with privileges and immunities.
Today things are different, and since 1996 the honour has been extended to citizens of the world who have distinguished themselves for services to society – the parchment retains a symbolic value, but still highly important. Previous recipients include Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and more recently, Nelson Mandela and Bill Gates. With the signing of the Declaration in the Book of Freeman, the name of Elisa Provini Walkers has joined ranks with other famous Italian Freemen such as Giuseppe Garibaldi (1864) and Luciano Pavarotti (2005).