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Newsletter Summer 2016

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 Summer 2016 Newsletter

Dear Friend of the British Benevolent Fund,

As the August heat descends and we turn to holidays and relaxation (well at least for some!) I would like to take the opportunity to update you on the activities of the British Benevolent Fund.

I am pleased to be able to report that the Fund is undergoing a period of welcome expansion and change.  For the first time in its history the BBF is now an independent legal entity registered in Spain, and along with this change of status we are adjusting our modus operandi to cope with the growing need to provide help and assistance to British citizens living outside of Madrid.  Rest assured that the objectives of the BBF remain the same, but in order to satisfy the increased demand for our services we are joining forces with partner organisations outside of Madrid.  In addition to the British Consulates around Spain, and Age Concern España, with whom the BBF has had working relationships for many years, new partnerships have been created with HELP, in four coastal areas around Spain, and MABS Cancer Support, and a specific member of the Executive Committee has been nominated to oversee these relationships.

As a result of these actions, more cases are being presented to the BBF for consideration and the objective in the future will be to leverage these relationships effectively.  At the time of writing the BBF has dealt with some 25 cases this year, over double those dealt with in 2015 (11), and has disbursed over €40000 in grants and aid.  A particularly impressive statistic is the average length of time for a case to receive funds, some 9 days, which again underlines what we consider to be one of the Fund’s unique selling points, that is our ability to react quickly to requests for help.  Although over 60% of our cases this year have been in the Alicante province, the Fund continues actively supporting the British community in Madrid as it has done since 1928 and it relies very much on this same group for its fundraising efforts.  Do take a look at the Testimonials page on our website for some remarkable stories of how we have helped British Citizens overcome hardship and despair.

A further example of BBF innovation was the link up with Runnymede College in an initiative that allows students to earn points towards their Duke of Edinburgh´s Award. Students opting for social work within the Duke of Edinburgh Award are providing help and assistance to elderly people in the Madrid area who need additional support.

DoE Visit

Two pupils from Runnymede College during one of their visits to Mr B, a Madrid resident.

According to Mr B. a resident of Madrid, these visits are a great help: “I look forward very much to my visits from young people, as it combines practical assistance for me living alone and provides refreshing conversations with the younger generation”.



Remaining with Runnymede College for just a little longer I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the parents, pupils and staff of Runnymede College for the hours of their time they have donated to raise funds for the BBF, their chosen charity for this academic year. Their incredible work has raised an impressive €8500 at the time of writing for which we are truly grateful.


The summer fete organised in conjunction with the Anglican Church of St. George’s was held again during the year. picture 11 Originally conceived as an event to bring non-profit English speaking groups together, this year commercial stalls were introduced resulting in an increase in the variety of offerings.  A further event is planned for 15th September, 2016.

IMG_1430The fourth annual fundraising concert at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes continued to be very successful, raising almost €6,000 and it will, again, be held on 27th October, 2016.  The BBF is most grateful to the professional musicians who give of their time for free and to the commercial sponsors who this year were again Bodegas Martúe and Mahou joined by Diageo, Mallorca Catering and Mini.

Somewhat ambitiously the Fund also organised an additional concert in London to celebrate the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the 23 April 2016, the day of her actual birthday. Although only modestly attended it served as a trailblazer for future events outside of Madrid, and with the experience gained we are confident that it can be repeated on a grander scale in 2017.


The Executive Committee are always looking for additional fundraising events as it is recognised that as the BBF reaches out to help more British citizens in Spain, so must its fundraising efforts, and therefore an additional concert in Spain is planned for 24 October 2016 in conjunction with King’s College the British School of Alicante.

A particular thank you is due to all the members of the Executive Committee. There is an active case support sub-committee frequently requiring quick decisions in support of individuals, and sub-committees devoted to marketing and events.  Those members on these committees give of their time and expense without reimbursement.  Without them the fund would not exist.

Many thanks for your continued support of the BBF which is very much appreciated.

Stewart Cusden


Joining forces with Runnymede College

The British Benevolent Fund of Madrid (BBF) and Runnymede College, La Moraleja have recently joined forces with an initiative that allows students to earn points towards their Duke of Edinburgh´s Award. Students opting for social work within the Duke of Edinburgh Award are providing help and assistance to elderly people in the Madrid area who need additional support.

DoE VisitTwo pupils from Runnymede College during one of their visits to Mr B, a Madrid resident

According to Mr B. a resident of Madrid, these visits are a great help: “I look forward very much to my visits from young people, as it combines practical assistance for me living alone and provides refreshing conversations with the younger generation”.

Diane Kiddell and Callie Meléndez, who are coordinating the visits on behalf the BBF, say that the high level of interest from some of the older residents has surprised them and that there is an increased number of enquiries from people living alone and wishing to be included.

Manuel Powell, in charge of the project at Runnymede College, said that he was delighted by the response from the BBF in putting the students in touch with known local residents who would benefit from contact with young people and expects the friendship to last well beyond the period of the scheme for some of the students.

Frank Powell, Headmaster and Principal of Runnymede College said that this was a win-win for Madrid residents, the school and its students as well as the widening of social activities that the BBF undertakes within the British community, “I have been a life- long supporter of the BBF and I am delighted that this programme has been so well received by students and the BBF alike”.

“It is extremely rewarding to see young people engage with the older generation and get enjoyment from it” said Stewart Cusden, Chairman of the BBF.


Bake Sale at Runnymede College

IMG_8177WP_20151120_12_38_11_ProA truly heartfelt thank you to all that took part in the Bake Sale organised by Runnymede College on 20 November 2015 in aid of the British Benevolent Fund. We received an overwhelming amount of cakes which were thoroughly enjoyed by parents, pupils and staff at the school.
From the parents who sent cakes and the ones who sent money, to those who were there in spirit and in person, thank you! These events are important as they teach the children about raising money for a good cause, as well as involving parents, teachers and children to come together and have a wonderful time!
The Bake Sale was an outright success this year, and around 1,200€ was raised for the British Benevolent Fund.IMG_8185

‘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.