ILL health is one of life’s most daunting challenges – navigating these upsets in a foreign land is fearsome still.
This is why one of the Costa Blanca’s most iconic charities started life in Denia by ladies from the English library when doctors who spoke English were few and far between.
And from early days of helping the infirm with the shopping, and providing interpretation services, the garlanded HELP charity has gone on to be firmly established at the region’s biggest hospital, Denia Marina Salud, as the first port of call for international residents in need.
Following an expansion of their interpretation services and charitable donations to 12 regional health centres, the now 300+ members of HELP have just celebrated their monumental contribution to expats’ peace of mind with a glamorous affair in the Marina Alta capital’s most classy Condado Club Denia.
“I am proud to be part of such an amazing group of volunteers,” HELP president Candida Wright told the Olive Press following the prestigious 35th anniversary Las Vegas Evening.
“HELP of Denia and Marina Alta has grown so much and into such a large area that we have officially changed our name to HELP of the Marina Alta. We are now HMA.
“My feelings are we will continue to grow and do as much as we can.”
Master of Ceremonies Ian Bennet told a dapper black tie audience how the charity has raised more than ‘€3 million’, and helped 50,000 people, in its 35 year history.
The money – raised through donations and the HMA’s two charity shops, in La Xara and Moraira – has purchased everything from ‘Holter’ heart-monitor machines to defibrillators and portable EGG units for home visits.
But Candida said one of the most vital charitable investments was the 40 special beds to be used in private homes for terminally ill patients.
“Two thirds of these beds are loaned out now to Spanish and other nationalities, as we continue our care in the community and in the hospitals to expats,” Candida added.
“We strive to help anyone, now, and for a long time to come.”
Wright this year continued a prestigious tradition at HMA, becoming the third volunteer to receive an MBE when she was named in the 2019 New Year Honours List for services to the British community in Spain.
Her beaming smiles and rapturous applause heralded a three-course feast, before jazz singer Giovanna Wallis belted out ballads, an aerial silk performer swung from the ceiling and sculpted dancers salsa-d into the early hours of the morning.
Salvador Vives Pons, attending the event as sponsor from Vives Pons lawyer office in Denia, told the Olive Press: “I feel that we have to give what we can to the charity as they do such fantastic work in the community.”
Salvador said he often accompanies HMA members to a local group of British expats suffering Parkinson’s to give presentations on making wills in Spain.
“Here we have very few independent charities outside the church – it just blows me away how much Help de Denia and the Marina Alta do for those in need.”