2 Jul, 2022 @ 10:00
2 mins read

Meet the woman behind a hospice charity supporting terminally ill expats on Spain’s Costa Blanca

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LIKE many of those who end up living in Spain, it was after enjoying a holiday with friends on the Mediterranean coast that Jennifer took the decision to relocate from North London to sunnier climes for a quieter life.

But the move gave Jennifer a new lease of life and with it the realisation that she wasn’t quite ready to retire.

Instead she started up what has become one of the most successful expat businesses in Spain. 

With one of the highest densities of foreign residents in Spain, this part of the Costa Blanca was crying out for someone to design special insurance packages for the expat market and the business thrived.

What began with one small office in Javea has now grown to seven branches across the Costa Blanca and one in Lanzarote.

La Marina branch of Jennifer Cunningham Insurance opened in 2007 followed by another in Benijofar later that year and then a branch in Playa Flamenca five years later.

At the same time as she opened an office in La Marina, Jennifer set about doing something that really mattered to her on a personal level.

She created a hospice charity that offers invaluable support to the terminally ill and their families among the expat community.

The charity is very close to her heart as she set it up following the death of her son Paul from cancer when he was only 33-years-old after witnessing the care he was given during his last days in a Sue Ryder hospice in Bedfordshire.

The charity was created in Paul Cunningham’s name.

“They had taken such exceptional care of my son but on my return to Spain I looked around to see what would happen if someone was in the same circumstance here in Spain and discovered that there really wasn’t anything similar. People were simply being sent home to die to be cared for by their family, but what if that wasn’t possible?”

The realisation led her to set up the Paul Cunningham Nurses Charity, which is based in La Marina and is run thanks to volunteers and funded by donations.

“The community spirit in La Marina has been key to making the charity a success,” explains Jennifer.

“There is such a mix of people here, it’s quite an extraordinary place, absolutely enormous with shopping facilities, banks, etc. But at its heart it is really a village.”

She explained how the first of three charity shops was opened in La Marina. 

“We have found that local residents are very generous, offering lots of great stuff that we can sell to raise funds for our hospice work.”

Not only that, but over the years dozens of local businesses and community clubs have offered venues and hosted fundraising events from  live music performances, lunches, raffles and dances.

Although fundraising efforts were paused during Covid, the charity managed to keep afloat and activities are once again returning to pre-pandemic levels.

These efforts enable the charity to provide free hospice care for people in their own home –  those who are discharged from hospital once there is nothing more doctors can do for them.

“We supply the equipment needed for them to be cared for at home, such as a hospital bed, wheel chair and pressure mattress, as well as nurses to provide palliative care and give support to any family they may have,” explains Jennifer.

Over the last year alone, the charity and its team of 20 volunteers has helped more than 100 people by providing care at the end of life.

“The nurses are absolutely incredible. How they do it day and day after day I don’t know,” she added.  “I admire them so much.”

Visit Jennifer Cunningham Insurances S.L and Paul Cunningham Nurses Charity by clicking on the links. 

Fiona Govan

Fiona Govan joined The Olive Press in March 2021. She moved to Spain in 2006 to be The Daily Telegraph’s Madrid correspondent and then worked for six years as Editor of The Local Spain. She lives in Madrid’s Malasaña district with her dog Rufus.

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