Category Archives: News

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.

The British Embassy Launches New Website – Health Care in Spain

healthcare in spain

The British Embassy in Spain in conjunction with The Department of Health, backed by funding from the European Union, have launched the website It contains lots of information, in English, on how to access healthcare in Spain whether you are resident here or just visiting. It is also very easy to navigate and has many useful contact details.

The website is managed by The Healthcare Team at The British Embassy. This is a small group of individuals that give advice to British Nationals on how to access healthcare in Spain. If you have an enquiry you can contact them through this website , or by calling 902 109 356.

Don’t delay check the website out now and make sure that you are fully up to date with the Spanish Healthcare.

Thank You to All Who Attended The Last Night of the Proms Concert

2014 Concert 3The third annual fundraising concert took place on Wednesday 22nd October with the theme this year being The Last Night of the Proms.

The British Benevolent Fund of Madrid hosted the event with sponsorship from Mahou and the Bodegas Martúe.


concert programmeMusicians, trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London travelled to Madrid to play well known pieces from operas and musicals followed by songs and hymns usually played at the last night of the Promenade Concert in the Royal Albert Hall, London. Musical pieces by Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, Sullivan and Bernstein were amongst the chosen music followed by Jerusalem, Rule Britannia! And Land of Hope and Glory. (Please click on the icon to see the Concert Programme with full details of the evening’s music and the musicians)

2014 Concert 2An almost full house at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, courtesy of Sr. Javier Blas, enjoyed the concert followed by drinks and nibbles where the audience was able to meet and chat with all the musicians. A raffle took place during the reception and the many donors of prizes were thanked for their generosity.


2014 Concert 1The musicians worked with the Head of Music at Runnymede College, La Moraleja Tanya Balashova to perfect the choir of Runnymede College and who accompanied the soloists at the concert. For Rebecca Taylor, accompanist and musical director it was her third visit to Madrid in support of the British Benevolent Fund of Madrid. This year she was accompanied by Ross Scanlon, an Irish tenor and Anna Sideris, soprano.

Together they made a wonderful evening for the audience with many asking when will the next concert take place.

The British Benevolent Fund would like to thank all who attended the concert, and participated in the raffle, and we hope to see all of you again at next year’s concert.

2014 concert 4 Rebecca Taylor-Accompanist chatting with audience

Shiela Stewart, Ann Chapman, Shirley Lavadera and Helen Leese Arabella González-Head of Finance and Resources & Gillian Flaxman OBE-Head of School British Council

El Concierto y Coctel – Oct 22 2014

concert banner

El Fondo Benéfico Británico de Madrid (British Benevolent Fund, o BBF) es una Asociación benéfica cuyo fin es la prestación de ayuda económica y de otra índole a personas de nacionalidad británica que sean residentes o que se encuentren sin medios en la Comunidad de Madrid, o excepcionalmente fuera de dicha Comunidad pero dentro del territorio español. La Asociación depende totalmente de donaciones del público y empresas. Su Presidente de Honor es el Embajador de su Majestad Británica en el Reino de España, el Excelentísimo Señor Simon Manley CMG.

Con el fin de recaudar fondos para cumplir con su misión benéfica, el BBF organiza este año, una vez más, un «Concierto y cóctel» en la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, en Madrid, el día 22 de octubre. El tema del Concierto será el de:


o Última Noche de los Proms inspirado en los famosos Promenade concerts (en castellano: paseos musicales) un ciclo de conciertos diarios de música clásica orquestal, que tienen lugar anualmente desde mediados de julio hasta mediados de septiembre cada año en el Royal Albert Hall de Londres. La Última Noche de los Proms, en muchas ocasiones referida por su nombre original en inglés, the Last Night, es el concierto que anualmente cierra el ciclo del festival.

En el Concierto organizado por la BBF participarán tres músicos profesionales que estudiaron en la Real Academia de Música de Londres: Rebecca Taylor, Ross Scanlon y Anna Sideris, y serán acompañados por el coro del Colegio Británico Runnymede de La Moraleja baja la tutela de su Profesora de Música, Tanya Balashova. Se espera la asistencia de unos 250 espectadores pertenecientes a la élite de la sociedad anglohispana de Madrid.

Se realizaran interpretaciones de canciones tan clásicas como O Mio Babbino Caro, el coro de Humming Bird, La Boheme, West Side Story, seguidas por una serie de piezas patrióticas británicas en la segunda parte del concierto, tales como Jerusalem (sobre un poema de William Blake) de Hubert Parry, Rule Britannia de Thomas Arne y el Concierto culminará con la Marcha de Pompa y Circunstancia nº 1 de Edward Elgar (Land of Hope and Glory).

Se compra entradas aqui o se puede comprar entradas en el lugar en la noche

MARGIT THEA ARTO 31st January, 1928 – 8th September, 2014

MargitMargit was a much loved and respected member of the British community in Madrid. Until the last couple of years before her death, she was extremely active and participated in many groups that occupied much of her time. In the last couple of years she experienced some physical ailments that slowed her down but she was frequently seen at events all over Madrid, and in her latter months with a walking stick. Always looking very smart and always courteous, she will be sadly missed.

She joined the British Benevolent Fund of Madrid committee in 1995 following in the footsteps of her mother Mrs Senta Wilmer, who was never on the BBF Committee, but who was a long time contributor and supporter of the Fund. Up until quite recently Margit actively contributed at committee meetings and always attended events to support the BBF. Her fund raising abilities were legendry, always selling more raffle tickets than any other committee member!

Margit read modern languages at Oxford University. She retained a deep affection for the university and St. Hilda’s College throughout her life. She was an active member of the Oxford University’s alumni society in Madrid, and later served as Branch Secretary until her retirement in 2010. She advised the University, and her college, during preparations for the university’s European Alumni Reunion events in Madrid in 2013.

Margit joined Runnymede College in 1973 and became head of French language in 1975, retiring in 2001. Madame Arto, as she was known, was loved by her pupils who still remember what an inspirational teacher she was. All her colleagues respected her integrity and her ability and courage to confront the challenges and disappointments that life invariably throws at us. She remained brave in the face of adversity and stoical when faced with injustice. These qualities never left her and her example afforded us one of life’s invaluable lessons: don’t back down under intimidation.

She leaves a son Carlos Arto who is a resident of Mexico City and a brother Gerald Wilmer, a nephew Christopher and niece Vanessa, all resident in the UK.

death of volunteer

BBF Sponsored Summer Fete a Great Success

BBF Stall
On Thursday 11 September the British Benevolent Fund of Madrid reached out to the English Speaking Community of Madrid, by holding a Summer Fete in conjunction with St George’s Anglican Church.


Designed to publicise what is on offer in Madrid in English, the late afternoon event hosted 34 stalls from a variety of community and social groups, local charities, clubs, pubs and sports teams, all with a common theme, the English language. Over 300 people attended, enjoying the convivial and vibrant atmosphere that prevailed in the Church’s Community Hall and the walled garden under the 200 year old fig tree.


ambassadorAmongst the guests was the 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. One of the highlights of the evening was a live performance by the International Gospel Choir who treated us to a superb rendition of several popular songs.

Remarkably this event was the first time such a comprehensive group from the English Speaking Community of Madrid had gathered together to promote their goods and services, and the British Benevolent Fund hopes to make it an annual fixture on the Madrid social calendar.

The full list of organisations that attended is as follows:

The American Club of Madrid
The American Women’s Club
The British Benevolent Fund
The British Cementary
The British Consulate and Health Team
The British Ladies Association
Cafeteria run by Maddog Tavern & Best of Britain
The Caledonian Association
FC Britanico
The Gospel Choir
The Hash House Harriers
Hiking in Madrid
The International English Speakers Group
The International Newcomers Group
Los Naranjas Hockey Club
Madrid Babel
Madrid Cricket
Madrid Lions RFC
Madrid Players
Madrid Scouts and Beavers
The Navy League Madrid
Netball Madrid
Red Deportes
The Scottish Country Dancing Group
The Soroptimists
St George’s Anglican Church
St George’s Guild
St George’s Mother & Toddler Group
Yoga at St Georges

Please check out the English-Speaking Community of Madrid facebook page and twitter feed for more information on all of the above organisations and other up coming events in English.

Facebook –
Twitter – @MadridEngComm

fete banner

Proms Night Raffle

Raffle Tickets Banner 1

1€ – 1 ticket, 5€ – 7 tickets, 10€ – 15 tickets

Raffle to be drawn at the BBF Proms Concert & Reception on Oct 22nd 2014 at The Academia Real de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. Email to purchase your tickets or buy them at the event on the night.


1st Prize: A range of high end beauty and spa treatments worth 600€
donated by Armonía Centro de Estetica
3 ticket winners will be drawn to receive:
5 sessions of Diode Laser Depilation Treatments (400€)
2 x The Matrimonial Esthetic Treatment Pack: oriental rejuvenation treatment for her and a quiromassage with essential oils for him (100€ each)

2nd Prize: 400€ worth of free dental treatments
donated by Dr Ian Daniel at Cisne Dental
3 ticket winners will be drawn to receive:
1 x Tooth Whitening Session (200€)
2 x 100€ vouchers

3rd Prize: A fantastic range of golf prizes worth over 300€
Donated by Golf Canal and Nuevo Club de Golf Las Matas
7 ticket winners will be drawn to receive:
1 x Two Golf Green Fees (100€)
3 x Professional Golf Classes at Golf Canal (50€ each)
3 x Gift Vouchers of to spend at Golf Canal (30€ each)

4th Prize: A Mary Kay Home Beauty Session with a free Mary Kay beauty pack worth 300€
Donated by Mary Kay Consultant Veronica Gonzales Caceres
1 ticket winner will be drawn to receive this prize.

5th Prize: Free Spanish Tax return – declaracion de la renta – worth 120€
Donated by Madrid Solicitors
1 ticket winner will be drawn to receive this prize.

6th Prize: A Food Hamper – worth 110€
donated by Sabores del Mundo
1 ticket winner will be drawn for this prize

7th Prize: Set dinner for two with wine valued at around 100€
Donated by Milu Gastrobar
1 ticket winner will be drawn to receive this prize.

8th Prize: A 100€ voucher to spend at The British Corner Shop
Donated by The British Corner Shop
1 ticket winner will be drawn to receive this prize.

9th Prize: Ian Gibson books personally signed by the author worth 100€
Donated by Ian Gibson
3 ticket winners will be drawn to receive one autographed book each.

10th Prize: A VIP Transfer within Madrid in an E Class Mercedes valued around 100€
Donated by Iberian Chauffeur
1 ticket winner will be drawn for this prize

11th Prize: A Spanish Artesan Doll ‘Pepa’ valued at 87€
donated by Tienda Asi Madrid
1 ticket winner will be drawn for this prize

12th Prize: 2 Craft Beer Crawls (29€ each) and two Wine Tasting Trails (32€ each)
donated by
4 ticket winners will be drawn for this prize

13th Prize: Afternoon Tea for Two at The Ritz – worth 65€
donated by The Belmont Ritz
4 ticket winners will be drawn for this prize

14th Prize: A meal for 2 at Restaurant Puerto Lagasca
donated by Restaurant Puerto Lagasca
1 ticket winner will be drawn for this prize

Other great prizes include a range of luxury goods valued at over 100€ donated by The British Embassy in Madrid including: a print of Buckingham Palace, a Thomas Lyte leather electronic tablet holder, Thomas Lyte leather bound notebook, a variety of coffee table books. Plus various other sundry prizes.

cisne dentalArmoniaGolf

Tienda Asi british corner shop madrid solicitors GOV-UK-WEB Picture1

iberian chauffeurmary kayenglish warehouse

puertolagascasabores del mundoritz madrid

An Update From The Chairman


There is a time to decide things!

During 2012 and the beginning of 2013 the Executive Committee of the British Benevolent Fund of Madrid (BBF) recommended to its donors at the Annual General Meeting in May 2013 that it should become an Association, under the Spanish “Ley de Asociaciones”.

It could have easily folded. It could no longer function as a private entity and the easy route would have been to distribute the assets to charity and close it down.

But your Committee decided by moving to an “Asociacion” it would provide a new platform to make the BBF more professional, more accountable to our funders and clients and give us the freedom to pursue corporate funding.

With the continued support of H.M. Ambassador and the various Consulates in Spain the BBF is now easier to approach for help and to obtain a prompt response. There is the small fact that it has existed since 1933 and the knowledge that many people over a very long period of time have worked tirelessly to help British citizens in need.

As times change so must the BBF. Your committee has grown with younger professional people becoming involved. There are planned events to broaden the awareness of the work being done and to make it easier for British people in the community who need assistance to come forward. In addition, people who wish to be involved and contribute are very welcome. There is much to be done!

The development of the website provides a way to communicate our activities and for people to contact the BBF and I would encourage you to follow us to see what is going on.

Please join me and the Committee to make things happen.

This is the time to decide on things!

Stewart Cusden, Chairman