The British Benevolent Fund’s annual fundraising concert was hosted by Hugh Elliot, the newly appointed British Ambassador for Spain and Andorra. Guests began to arrive at his official residence in the outskirts of Madrid at 7pm and were greeted by volunteers from the BBF who mingled with them and sold the last few raffle tickets whilst waiters offered drinks. The atmosphere was pleasantly formal, with Runneymede students on their best behaviour adding to the sense of occasion whilst also making it a lovely family evening.
At 7:30pm guests were invited to take their seats in the reception room for the evening to begin. The Chairman of the British Benevolent Fund John Scott thanked everyone for attending and spoke about the work carried out by the charity in Spain. The audience appreciated learning more about how the BBF is helping relieve the burden on Spanish Social services by providing support for British citizens residing in Spain who require assistance when their circumstances alter.
The Ambassador welcomed his guests to the residence and spoke warmly about his eagerness to settle into his new post. He looked around the room and commented he was glad to see a few familiar faces- people he had met two or three times since moving to Madrid and assuming the role of British Ambassador for Spain and Andorra. He said that meeting people doing so many good things in an active community like this one has taken the edge off any difficulty of arriving in a new place.
The concert began with a beautiful rendition of Somewhere from West Side Story. It was followed by a carefully curated selection of songs from musicals that were masterfully delivered by soprano Jenny Stafford and tenor Ross Scanlon with accompanist Rebecca Taylor. The choir from Runneymede school took to the stage to sing When I Grow Up and Revolting Children from Matilda, garnering well-deserved praise from the audience for such a lively performance. The first half closed with a beautiful waltz from Merry Widow and then it was time to draw the raffle.
This year’s raffle prizes included tickets to the opera worth several hundred euros, flights on Iberia Express to anywhere in Europe, hotel vouchers donated by The Madrid Metropolitan, individual Spanish classes at LAE Madrid, a sumptuous hamper of goodies from Taste of America, a meal for four at The Irish Rover and many, many more. This year the prize winners for the top three prizes were all present in the audience, which only increased the joy of all involved and provided a truly satisfying feeling for those BBF volunteers who had worked tirelessly to bring the raffle together.
The second half of the concert was full of surprises, including a duet between the two opera singers with Ross Scanlon singing a part usually sung by a female singer. The song – I know him so well – was performed faultlessly by both professionals and their performance was the icing on the cake of a truly memorable concert.
After show drinks and canapes were offered by sponsors Mallorca Catering and winery Martúe in the grounds of the house. The children who had sung so beautifully in the concert were treated to their own fun buffet too, in a special area of the residence. It was a lovely end to a wonderful event, enjoyed by guests and volunteers alike.
A few of the concert attendees: