Author Archives: Charlie

Showstopper’s Concert Raffle Winners

Please find below a link to the list of raffle prize winners drawn by HM Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, at The BBF Showstopper’s Concert held at the Residence on October 25th.

We will be contacting the prize winners over the next week to come collect their prizes if you do not hear from us please email us on

Raffle Prize Winner List website

‘La Operetta’ “Stars” at Madrid Concert

IMG_1430Trained professional musicians from the Royal Academy of Music, accompanied by the choir from Runnymede College, La Moraleja played various arias from popular operas at the fourth annual fundraising concert on behalf of the British Benevolent Fund of Madrid on October 22nd, 2015 at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid.

Music from Puccini, Verdi, Handel and Bizet, was the star attraction of the show entitled La Operetta performed in front of almost 200 people including Her Majesty ́s Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley CMG, Honorary President of the Benevolent Fund and his family.IMG_1337

Following the Concert a reception was held in the beautiful entrance hall of the Real Academia, where drinks and food were served amidst ancient and priceless statues, and the audience were able to meet the musicians. Two Minis, kindly supplied by Mini España, adorned the entrance with union flags to the fore, and they were very popular with the audience who posed for photographs of themselves both inside and outside of the cars.

The Chairman of the British Benevolent Fund, Stewart Cusden, wishes to thank all those commercial organisations that supported the concert which included Bodegas Martúe, Mahou, Diageo and Mallorca Catering as well of course, Mini España. The Benevolent Fund is also very grateful to all the those that generously donated raffle prizes drawn on the night, and particular thanks must be paid to the three musicians that travelled from London and gave up their time free not only for the Concert but also holding music workshops during the week at the British Council School in Somosaguas and at Runnymede College, La Moraleja.

“It is extremely satisfying to organise an event such as La Operetta in the knowledge that the money raised will assist a number of British families in Spain that are in real need” said the Chairman.IMG_1612


Summer Fete 2015 A Great Success

picture 12Over 200 people joined us at the St. George’s Anglican church in Madrid on the 24th September to celebrate the British Benevolent Fund’s 2nd annual Summer Fete. The evening was a great success and was enjoyed by both expatriates and English-speaking local “madrileños” alike. Visitors had the opportunity learn more about English speaking organisations and companies that offer services in English here in Madrid as well as being able to purchase items from food to second hand books and even clothing.

picture 11The doors opened at 7pm and the Church was immediately filled with people of various nationalities, some of whom had known about the event in advance and others who were tempted to come in as they passed by the Church. It was a universal atmosphere and the Madrid weather was very kind to us. The front and back patios of the church were filled with both commercial stands as well as those of non-profit organisations, and the visitors were able to mingle, make purchases and learn about these organisations whilst sipping their wine or refreshment and enjoying snacks bought at the cafe. We were delighted to welcome once again our Honorary President of the British Benevolent Fund in Madrid, the British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley CMG, and the British Consul Madrid, Sarah Jane Morris.

As the evening progressed it did become a little dark but that added to the charm of the evening and was a focus of conversation. Inside the Church visitors enjoyed a performance by the Madrid International Community Choir.

picture 3Everybody agreed the evening was a great success. It was an enjoyable social event in a relaxing atmosphere which also offered networking opportunities and gave visitors a chance to learn about local services and organisations previously unknown to them.

At the same time it raised much appreciated funds for the British Benevolent Fund which will be put to great use.

Update From The Chairman – July 2015

StewartAs the application to register as a legal entity in Spain approaches its conclusion, it provides the opportunity to develop the British Benevolent Fund (BBF) as an independent charity and to increase its base of donors, clients and volunteers.

The BBF has relied heavily on generous independent donors but once registered, attractive corporate donors will be able to contribute financially and in kind to obtain certain tax breaks that make giving in the corporate world an incentive to give generously.

Once the registration process is complete, the correct steps will be taken to comply with the law in Spain. The British Ambassador to Spain will continue to be our Honorary President and extra time and training  is being given to all the British Consulates around Spain to improve communication with the BBF and to ensure worthy cases are brought to our attention and managed promptly. We are also developing further our partnership with Age Concern España. As we know there are many British people living in Spain and a number have suffered through the crisis and as their old age approaches many are faced with very difficult decisions. It is hoped that through our partnerships with The British Consulates and Age Concern more British people in need will become aware of the relief available from the BBF and that we are able to help more people in the future.

 It is also hoped that with the continual development within the BBF we will be able to reach out more effectively into the community to attract new volunteers as well as donors. Giving something back to the British community in Spain can be extremely rewarding and you may see from the website that there is a leaflet describing what you could do to help suitable entitled “Volunteer Leaflet”.

The development effort this year will include the SUMMER FETE on September 24th, 2015 where the BBF and St.George´s Church have combined to show what is available to the English speaking community in Madrid. This will be the second year of the fete, although this year it brings together non-profit making organisations and for the first time commercial stalls will also be present.

The fourth year of the FUNDRAISING CONCERT will take place at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando on October 22nd, 2015. Tickets are now available on the BBF website and this year the theme will be scenes from well-known operas performed by musicians trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London. With generous sponsorship from Bodegas Martúe, Mahou and Tanqueray Gin, the concert will be followed by a reception where the audience gets to meet the performers. This is always a popular event so reserve your tickets early!

As the summer break takes place please enjoy your time whether in Madrid or elsewhere.

Stewart Cusden
The British Benevolent Fund

Annual General Meeting 2015

SIMON MANLEYThe Annual General Meeting was chaired by H.M. Ambassador Simon Manley CMG at the British Embassy on 21st May, 2015. His opening comments praised the work of the BBF and how it was a great example of how people can work together to help other people.

The event was well supported by regular donors to the Fund and the Minutes of the AGM in 2014 were soon approved before moving on to the Annual Report for 2014. The Chairman, Stewart Cusden thanked the Ambassador for his continued support of the BBF and went on to elaborate on his Annual Report.

The Treasurer, Charlie Wilson reported an increase of €30,000 in cash reserves for the previous year pointing out that the number of regular donors had increased which it is hoped will be a continuing trend. The number of cases that the BBF had dealt with in 2014 had also declined mainly due to an arrangement that H.M. Government had introduced to lend money to individuals in need wishing to return to the UK and that this had relieved the BBF of some repatriation costs during the year.

The BBF continues to work with the Consulates around Spain to ensure they are aware of the resources at their disposal through the BBF and continuing efforts are being made to improve communication and training so that cases of extreme distress are dealt with professionally and promptly.

The Legal Adviser to the BBF commented on the status of the application by the BBF to be registered in Spain as a legal entity with a national scope and that a response would shortly be forthcoming.

A reception was held after the formal meeting had closed where donors and Committee members were able to speak to each other informally.

British Consul Appointed for Alicante


The British Benevolent Fund would like to congratulate Sarah-Jane Morris on her recent appointment to British Consul in Alicante. We look forward to working with you to help British Nationals in distress in Spain.

For more information please click on this link.

H.M. Ambassador to Spain

SIMON MANLEYHave you ever wondered what a day in the life of an Ambassador is like?
Click on this link to see an interview with Simon Manley, The British Ambassador to Spain.
The interview is in Spanish and was filmed for

Update From The Chairman – Dec 2014

StewartThis is the time of year when our thoughts turn to those less fortunate than ourselves. The British Benevolent Fund of Madrid has been helping British people in Spain since 1929 and it is planned to continue this work into the future. If you have not made a donation this year, please remember to give something now, no matter how small, by following the link to our website.

Many of you attended the Proms Concert in October and bought raffle tickets. This raised an amazing €4,500 and the BBF is extremely grateful to those of you that attended this event and the summer fete held at St. George´s Church in Madrid. Both these events helped raise the awareness of the work done by many people associated with the Fund not only to raise money but to remind people that there is help at hand for those that need it most. Many people that require help may not know of the existence of the BBF but it is very much hoped that by letting people know of its activities, more people will come forward to seek help.

If you or anyone you know is willing to spend a small amount of time in whatever capacity to join the growing number of volunteers to help us spread the word, we will always be pleased to hear from you. So pick up the phone now or drop us an email!

The British Benevolent Fund of Madrid has a long history. Be part of its future as it grows into a recognised charity in Spain.

Donate IconThis is the time of year to consider what can be put back into society and to contribute something more in 2015.

Best Wishes for a Very Merry Christmas

Stewart Cusden
The British Benevolent Fund of Madrid

christmas 2014

Why I Volunteer – Olaf Clayton (Executive Committee Member)

life in the sunI first met James and his wife Laura when I moved to Madrid in 2000. James was a successful photographer and his wife an artist whose watercolours and etchings of Iberian sceneries were sold around the world. Both were in their 60s, independently minded, with a lively outlook on life and seemingly a million miles away from needing any form of assistance from anybody -least of all financial.

They had both independently left England when young to seek fame and fortune in the new world. There they met, married and thrived. As the heady days of the 80s came to end they decided to cash in their chips, sell up their home, buy a boat and sail the seas. Live the dream and live life. After all they had money in the bank and both had skill sets that they could use anytime and anyplace they chose. The world was their oyster.

sxurviving adversity poemAfter several years they eventually found themselves in Spain. They liked what they saw and decided to stay, enjoy the warmer climate and try a new challenge. At first things were fine; they sold the boat and rented a fine apartment in town. James found work – not as much as before but enough to have a good living and Laura set to painting which was critically acclaimed and sold well. Though they were earning it was a challenge – a different language, different culture and a very different way of being.

That in itself was not going to stop them but in 2005 Laura suffered a series of mishaps and accidents that put her in hospital and from which her recovery was slow. This meant James was unable to work as much as he would have liked as he had to take care of his wife. Then the global crisis hit Spain and the work started to dry up. Old clients were unwilling or unable to pay his fees. Laura´s condition worsened and they made the decision to leave Madrid and live on the coast. It would be cheaper to rent and cheaper to live – they also felt that all the cultural barriers they had encountered would disappear and the work would pick up. They put their last savings to move down and rent a modest apartment over-looking the sea where at least Laura could recover and escape the harshness of the Castilian winter and benefit from the warmer climate.

never give up poemAt the beginning it seemed to work but the recession had already hit and money was hard to come by. The savings were drying up on rent and increasingly on healthcare. James was spending more and more time nursing his wife and less and less time on making a living. Then things went from bad to worse when Laura´s worsening condition led to a fall at home which rendered her comatosed and bed ridden. To his horror he discovered that she was outside the scope of public healthcare in Andalucia and no hospital would treat her or take her. He had no choice but to use the remaining savings on private healthcare and face the terrible reality that, after having sold their business and brought an ocean going yacht and sailed the world, they were now facing penury and possibly eviction. Götterdämmerung.

helping others poemA lifetime of independence had come to an end and a realisation that there was no way out; no way to help or support his wife with whom he had shared his adult life. It was at this point that I became involved looking for a solution and in the following weeks I looked at what was a dire and heartbreaking personal situation. I wanted to help but for the life of me I didn’t know how and could only imagine the pain and suffering of both as they faced each terrible day -and wonder how anybody could cope.

One of my discoveries was the British Benevolent Fund and the financial lifeline it lent to those who had no other recourse. It seemed that he would benefit and I called and told him that this would appear to provide at least a part solution to the financial side – he could make an application – maybe pay for a nurse or a adapted bed and then he could at least work. I was wrong of course; James was far too proud and independently minded to accept this and it was not pursued. What he wanted was the tools to do this himself and that is what he managed to do. He managed by his means to get the Andalucian government to admit his wife to a hospice where still she remains; looked after and cared for by professional medical staff and where he visits each day. He has returned to work and has been able to resume his life only this time – alone.

overwhelmed poemJames didn’t want the BBF but there are many others who do and when they reach out it is for us to pull together for one of our own. The UK population in Spain continues to rise and to age with a steady stream of people seeking a better life, there are many who struggle and many who cannot cope and who have nowhere else to turn.

That´s why I volunteered and why I feel the BBF has and will have an increasing role to play in the welfare of British people in Spain.