FORMER President of Samaritans in Spain, Chris Sumter, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM).
Chris was presented with the award by British Ambassador Simon Manley at the Samaritans in Spain headquarters in Punta Prima. Chris could have received her BEM in the UK, where she now lives, but chose to return to Spain for her investiture as it was here where she did most of her charity work.
Mr Manley, who had met with Chris earlier this year as she prepared to step down from the charity ahead of her move back to Britain in March with her husband, said she was “an inspiration” and praised her for overseeing the charity’s extraordinary growth and expansion.
Chris joined the Samaritans in the autumn of 2008 and completed her listening training in early 2009. She became a trustee and, as an ex-teacher, took over training, revamping the modules to suit Spanish conditions. Chris became CEO in 2011 and took over as President in November of the same year.
At this point, the organisation was known as Costa Blanca Samaritans and struggling to keep going, only being available for four hours each night. But Chris immediately began to seek out ways to bring the Samaritans into the limelight and to the forefront of charities in Spain. She secured the premises in Punta Prima where they could operate a charity shop, call centre and drop-in centre.