Author Archives: Mary Clare Bland

Queens Birthday Honours List

BBF Chairs named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List

The BBF is thrilled that both the current and previous Chair of the British Benevolent Fund have received Honours in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Former Chair Stewart Cusden was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the British community in Spain. Current Chair John Scott was awarded an OBE for services to British/Spanish relations.

Stewart Cusden, former BBF Chair

Stewart Cusden moved to Madrid in 1996 as country manager for Texaco, retiring in 2001. He started volunteering with the British Benevolent Fund in 2007, becoming its Chairman in 2014. Under his Chairmanship he professionalised the organisation and increased its profile and support. He transitioned the organisation from supporting only UK nationals in Madrid to supporting UK nationals throughout Spain.

“Steward Cusden has radically transformed the British Benevolent Fund Madrid into a professionally run Spain-wide registered charity – increasing the volunteer base and quadrupling the number of beneficiaries in four years. Thanks to Stewart our Consulates have formed strong partnerships with BBF that have enabled us to significantly improve our support for UK nationals in need.”- HMA Simon Manley

Former BBF Chair Stewart Cusden

“I feel very honoured that the work of the British Benevolent Fund (BBF) has been recognised in this way and that the award reflects a lot of hard work by all the volunteers in the BBF in supporting British people in need in Spain.”- Former BBF Chair Stewart Cusden

John Scott, BBF Chair

John Scott occupied many senior positions at KPMG, most recently serving as Global Deputy Chairman of KPMG International until stepping down in 2017. Throughout that time he worked to promote the UK and foster our bilateral relationship with Spain. In 2006, John became the first external non-executive member of the British Embassy Madrid Board and in 2016 joined the Embassy Prosperity Board. He is spokesperson for the Board of Friends of the Reina Sofia and was recently appointed as Chair of the British Benevolent Fund.

“John Scott has not only been one of the most significant senior business figures of his generation in Spain, but has used that acumen and expertise to facilitate the Embassy’s connections with Spanish companies. It has been a pleasure to work alongside, and indeed learn, from him.”- HMA Simon Manley

BBF Chair John Scott

“After more than 30 years in Spain, I feel incredibly proud to be considered to have contributed and hopefully to have helped to strengthen an ever more dynamic business relationship between the UK and Spain. I’m very grateful to my colleagues at KPMG and to those professionals with whom I have collaborated over the years at the UK Embassy for their support.”- BBF Chair John Scott

Other Madrid residents named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List

In total, six UK nationals resident in Spain were named in this year’s list, published on 8 June 2019.The others were:

  • An OBE to Mrs Anne McEwan, Former President, National Association of British Schools in Spain. “For services to education.”
  • An OBE to Mr Derek Doyle MBE, lately British Consul and Director of Trade and Investment, Bilbao, Spain. “For services to UK/Spain relations.”
  • A BEM to Mrs Georgina Harvey, President, Original Charity Shop and Library, Javea, Spain. “For services to charity.”
  • A BEM to Mr Michael Witty, Retired. “For services to the British community in Catalonia, Spain.”

“It is extraordinary to see six British nationals awarded at the same time – a real testament to the depth and diversity of the UK-Spain relationship and to the contribution that so many British nationals make to their communities across Spain”- HMA Simon Manley

open evening with the BBF

Open Evening with the BBF

An Open Evening with the BBF

On Wednesday 10th of April the British Council kindly hosted an Open Evening for the British Benevolent Fund (BBF) at the British Council, their flagship school. Billed as an informal event to learn about the BBF and meet the team of volunteers who make it happen, the function was opened by Events Manager Olaf Clayton who welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming. He introduced the BBF’s new Chairman, John Scott, who spoke about his vision for the charity under his stewardship. He hopes that the BBF will be able to reach many British citizens who have been living in Spain for several years without fully registering with local authorities. Brexit is acting as a wake-up call for these British citizens and the BBF is ready to help in any which way it can.

Treasurer Charlie Wilson then spoke, giving a presentation explaining who we are, who we help, how we help them and what practical steps can be taken by those in the room wanting to support the charity in any way. After taking questions, Charlie invited everyone present to have a glass of wine and some lovely food which had been prepared by Events volunteer Jenny Osborne. It was a very pleasant evening in good company.

Thank you to everyone for coming along. We look forward to you joining our team!

british benevolent fund, English speaking charities

English Speaking Charities, Alicante Diputación and British Consulate Annual Meeting

The British Benevolent Fund was represented by Charlie Wilson (treasurer) and Chris Neill (case support officer) at the annual meeting organised by the British Consulate and the Alicante local government at Alicante on Thursday 7th March, 2019.

This yearly event brings together the Alicante Consulate, which represents over 15, 000 registered British Citizens in the Alicante region, the local Spanish government and local Charity organisations that work in the Alicante area.

English speaking charities

British Consul Sarah Jane Morris and Mercedes Alonso, the provincial councillor for International Residents in Alicante, welcomed everyone and presented the introduction to what turned out to be a fascinating day.

Esther Ponzoda presented the official website of the International residents department. She explained how local organisations can use it to apply for public funding online.

Melisha Strachan, who is a specialist advisor and social worker to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, outlined the resources in the UK that are available to returning British Citizens upon repatriation to the UK.

Consular Officer Laura de la Fuente gave a brief talk on the mechanisms in place to deal with cases of domestic violence and the role of the consulate in such cases.

Of course Brexit was never far from the agenda and we were introduced to Elena Jurado who has just taken on a new post in the British Consulate as the Brexit Social Worker Advisor.

Later Sarah Munsterhjelm, the Alicante Vice Consul, outlined measures that the measures that the Spanish and UK Governments are taking in the case of either a deal or a no deal Brexit and reassured British Citizens that at present, all existing rights to residency and healthcare access will be maintained.

This was an excellent opportunity to increase BBF visibility in the Alicante region.

Brits in Spain after Brexit

Brits in Spain after Brexit: Presentation by the UK Embassy

Over the past few weeks the British Embassy has been holding citizen outreach meetings. Here they share information and answer questions from the general public about Brits in Spain after Brexit. Volunteers from the BBF attended the meeting, which took place  on February 15, 2019 in Madrid.

Apart from reminding British citizens resident in Spain about the resources available to us via the government website, the Embassy was keen to reassure Brits living in Spain that there is a good working relationship with the Spanish government. The Embassy made clear this relationship will not be affected by the Spanish snap election set for April 29, 2019.

 

They gave out these handouts in the meeting:

Information for UK Nationals in Spain

Information for UK nationals in Spain

This outlines the steps you need to take to register as a Spanish resident

Living in Spain

A list of websites which includes everything from advice on how to recognize foreign qualifications to how to claim benefits for British nationals overseas.

Handout_living in Spain – V1 (002)

 

Q&A for Brits in Spain after Brexit

There was a Q&A session afterward the presentation.  People asked about the effects of a no-deal Brexit on our rights, our freedom of movement and our status as residents in Spain. The Embassy has very little information about a no-deal Brexit and all answers given were premised on the Withdrawal Agreement getting through parliament before the 29th of March 2019.

The advice was clear. No matter what the Brexit outcome is, there are four steps every British citizen should follow as a matter of course if deciding to settle in Spain.

  • Ensure you are registered as resident in Spain and that you are registered on the Padrón. Here is a link to book an appointment at the Oficina de Extranjería. Our next blog post will discuss how to register on the Padrón. Follow us on Facebook to receive a notification of when this information is posted.
  • Ensure you have an S1 form. This allows you to claim the reciprocal right to healthcare if you are not working in Spain and/or have retired here.
  • Ensure your driving license has been swapped to a Spanish one.
  • Ensure your university and professional qualifications have been recognized by the Spanish Ministry of Education.

This blog will continue to post information to help Brits is Spain prepare for Brexit and to assist Brits in Spain after Brexit. We will provide information as soon as it becomes available. We will also share it on our Facebook page. If you wish to follow our Facebook page and receive notifications when we post Brexit related news, here is the link: BBF Facebook Page

Recent repatriation to the UK success story

Juliet wrote to our Treasurer recently to thank the British Benevolent Fund for helping with this repatriation to the UK.

As the friend of one of your beneficiaries I would like to describe how very much the British Benevolent Fund assisted her, & even helped me to help her.

The British citizen in question was in urgent need of financial assistance to repatriate to the UK because she had completely run out of money & was about to be evicted for rent arrears. She is, further, a pensioner & disabled. She has no family at all & would have been homeless where she lived in Spain because the local authorities could not support her.

Via considerable input from the local British Consulate the British Benevolent Fund provided a very generous grant that paid for the lady’s flight, a taxi from Heathrow to Taunton in Somerset then 8 nights in a disabled hotel room until her homeless situation could be resolved by social services. Originally 2 nights in the hotel were planned & expected to be sufficient but in fact the stay had to be extended twice over because residential placement wasn’t forthcoming, requiring the treasurer of the BBF to urgently seek release of extra funds each time. The room provided by the BBF had a carers bed which enabled me to stay, at no cost to me, to assist the lady.

As much as the generosity of the BBF, I would like to emphasize the extremely caring, concerned attitude of the case support worker & treasurer. They were in frequent telephone contact, both for arrangements & out of concern for the lady’s welfare, & clearly had great personal concern for her. This personal support during an intensely stressful time, right through until a satisfactory outcome was established, was highly appreciated by the lady & I.

The invaluable assistance of the BBF enabled a fully satisfactory outcome in these otherwise unavoidable desperate circumstances.

The British Benevolent Fund works closely with partner organizations to help British citizens in need with help for repatriation to the UK, and other pressing issues.

If you have an urgent issue, please contact us.

 

2018 Concert Raffle Prize Winners

Raffle Prize Winners

2018 winners of BBF raffle prizes

Did you buy a raffle ticket from one of the British Benevolent Fund’s volunteers in the run up to the concert? Have a look at this list! You may have won a prize!

2018 LIST OF RAFFLE PRIZES BBF CONCERT

  PRIZE Nº  Ticket Name
1 RETURN TICKETS IBERIA EXPRESS MADRID / LONDON 00637 Julian
2 LEAD CRYSTAL BOWL 00494 Sheila Stewart
3 TEETH WHITENING TREATMENTS 01039 Sotomayor
4 ELECTRIC TOOTH BRUSH 00748 IRA
5 SERIES TEN PRINTS 00396 Rev Paul
6 INTENSIVE ENGLISH COURSE SAINT CHARLES 02266 Taissa G
7 LUNCHES  (2 PEOPLE) MILFORD ´S RESTAURANT 00939 Javier (from gym)
8 BOTTLE OF WINE (2) 00420 Jenny Swanson
9 BOOK ON VELAZQUEZ 00722 Alberto
10 INTENSIVE SPANISH COURSE ONE WEEK LAE LANGUAGE  SCHOOL 00744 IRA
11 ENGLISH LESSONS AT VAUGHAN ACADEMY 02980 Adrián
12 PACK MORINGA POWDER AND LEAVES

WITH RECIPE BOOK

02908 Mal
13 BOOK TENERIFE 01974 Federico
14 ANORAK 02282 Taissa G
15 BOTTLE OF GIN 02040 Callie
16 BOOK ON ANTARTICA 01218 Frank Powell
17 SET OF TWO TIES AND CUFF LINKS 00499 David Taylor (Diane)
18 2 LESSONS PILATES 4 PERSONS 02929 Lucía
19 JEWELLERY FROM CAROLINA CARVALLO 01928 Lola Espinosa
20 LUNCH OR DINNER FOR 2  XAREL –LO GASTRO BAR 00120 Lucía
21 COFFEE TABLE  BOOK ON MOROCCO 02975 TERI
22 COFFEE TABLE  BOOK ON MOROCCO 02907 Mal
23 AMBASSADOR SUITCASE BOOK 00764 Jesús
24 BACK PACK 00720 Alberto
25 HAMPER FROM SABORES DEL MUNDO 02811 Verónica
26 SILK TIE II 00773 David
27 SILK TIE I 02976 Adrián
28 ROAD  MAPS 01984 Raquel
29 BOOK SUÁREZ A GORBACHOV 02942 Graene
30 A BOX MAHOU UTILITIES 02986 Tree
31 BOOK MADRID INTACTO 01458 Tola
32 EVENING  ON WINE AND TAPAS – WONDER BOX 01133 Lydia iTOI
33 INVITATION (2  PEOPLE)  LAVINIA  WINES 02467 Francisco Diéguez
34 INVITATION (2  PEOPLE)  LAVINIA  WINES 00686 Alison Wade
35 WINE AND TAPAS EVENING (2 PEOPLE) 00379 Philida
36 PAC-A-MAC 01117 Lydia iTOI
37 DINNER FOR 2 AT PUERTO DE LAGASCA 00538 Ricardo Lama
38 1 YEAR MEMBERSHIP TO AMERICAN CLUB 02423 Jane Kinnear
       

Contact our vice-chairman if you recognize your name / ticket number above:

vice-chairman@britishbenevolentfund.org

Thanks to everyone who contributed with prizes. The raffle was a huge success and the money raised will be put to good use.

British Benevolent Fund #FreshMadrid fair

#Fresh Madrid 2018

BBF welcomes everyone back to Madrid after the summer!

On the 13th of September the BBF celebrated its 5th annual English speaking Fair at St George’s Anglican Church in Madrid. The event was a huge success, the best yet!

patio view of #FreshMadrid fair

Over 400 people and nearly 40 stalls packed into the church’s hidden garden patio for Fresh Madrid 2018, a dynamic community fair that raised over 800 euros for the British Benevolent Fund. This year’s Fair broke attendance records and gained some important new exhibitors. Stalwart Madrid-based English-speaking associations such as the American Women’s Club and the British Scouts were joined by diverse clubs such as the Hash House Harriers and Hiking Madrid. New companies to join the foray this year were Vaughan Systems and HM Hospitales, contributing to the hubbub of English language conversations about all and sundry.

International Newcomers at #FreshMadrid

Visitors to the Fair sampled vegan cookies prepared by Parisa Salahshourian, middle eastern delicacies made by refugee Syrian chefs, lollipops handed out by Kids in Madrid, beer from local brewery Oso Brew Co and ubiquitous tea and coffee, so quintessentially British, served by willing volunteers.  

Advice was at hand on issues as varied as chargers for electric cars, Spanish language classes, private insurance policies, individual health cover, alternative therapies and multilingual therapy. English language entertainers including award-winning comedienne Tricia Audette and local band The Lovehearts were there to talk about their latest shows. Children’s ballet teacher Joy, who runs a weekly class at St George’s, and creative dance company Hello! English spoke about their activities for 2018/19. Other children’s services providers included Dolores Gage who teaches pottery in English / French to children and Fun Finance who help budding child entrepreneurs’ work out budgets.

Madrid-based English pop group The Lovehearts, promoted the release of their latest 5 song EP on Spotify at #FreshMadrid. Chris Neill, trumpet player in the Lovehearts and Case Support Officer for the BBF said: “As all our compositions are in English, the Fresh Madrid Fair was the perfect platform for us to promote the release of our EP on Spotify”.

The Lovehearts stall at BBF English-speaking community of Madrid fair

The Lovehearts at #FreshMadrid

Regular social groups such as Madrid Babel, the American Club and the International Newcomers Club of Madrid recruited new members, whilst St George’s church raised awareness of their forthcoming fundraising activities. Volunteers from the British Cemetery shared their enthusiasm for this quaint corner of Madrid that is the fountain of many stories. Meanwhile, the new feature for 2018 –  a BBF tombola – was surprisingly popular with visitors. All in all, the Fair was a true representation of everything Madrid’s English-speaking community has to offer. Olaf Clayton, Events organizer for the British Benevolent Fund thanked everyone who took part: “This was a wonderful evening connecting the English-Speaking community in Madrid”.  

BBF committee members: Olaf Clayton, Sarah-Jane Morris and Stewart Cusden