Euro Weekly News awards the “Community Heroes” as voted by you, the readers, from each area
And the winners are…..
AFTER three weeks of nominations we are ready to announce your “Community Heroes”. Euro Weekly News asked you, the reader, to tell us about the fantastic people who have kept your community together during these trying times. Who has gone out of their way to provide for others? Who has helped make these frightening times more bearable? Who deserves some pampering?
Well, the flood gates opened and we have been inundated with e-mails from our readers so impressed by how certain members of their communities have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help make people’s lives easier during the current coronavirus crisis.
The winner from each area will receive €200 to spend in local businesses that need it the most, in the hope of keeping these businesses alive.
Thank you to everybody got in touch and well done to all those who were nominated, you have done your community proud.
Can we have a drum roll, please!
Adrian and Paloma Cockings, Costa Blanca South
WE were inundated with nominations for this married couple from Murcia, who created the Facebook page ´Coronavirus in Spain-Information´ which has been a lifeline for people in their community. Adrian is originally from the UK and Paloma is from Spain together they manage to translate and convey all the important information coming from the government which has helped to set people’s minds at ease.
“When the State of Alarm was announced I uploaded a video I had recorded to my Key Style Properties page pointing out what the decree meant. There were so many hits it has now reached 31,000 views. I decided to start a page that featured these types of videos and posted them every day for 46 days.”
Upon watching the videos you can see how Adrian has built a trusting audience, he is down to earth, upbeat and certainly breaks down the barriers when it comes to firm and sometimes confusing governmental information and delivering it in a positive and comforting manner that dispels any fear.
The page now has 11, 000 followers and Adrian and Paloma aren’t looking to wind things up when the crisis cools off. “I would like to keep the page as an informative guide to Spain. I have already started on some tutorials and would like to cover parts of Spanish lifestyle. Also, I am currently auctioning off specially made T-shirts to give the proceeds to charity.”
It is amazing that the pair have been able to give up so much of their time as they are new parents to four-month-old Lily who has become a star in her own right, They are certainly a selfless and giving family.
Karen Maling Cowles, Costa Blanca North
WHEN the State of Alarm was announced Karen was packing up for the night in her office “I remember it clearly, I got very emotional as it immediately made me realise how many families will go hungry.”
That evening I spoke to a friend to work out what we could do “I know how Spain works, people will not receive food parcels and I was very concerned for those who live day to day not knowing where the next meal is coming from, so we set up a food bank.” At the time Karen also thought it beneficial to have a group of translators on hand as there was so much information coming in that it could have become very confusing.
She also began posting videos every day on her Facebook page to let people know what was going on and give messages of hope and support. With the help of her husband, the transformed their garage into a production line and foodbank to put together food parcels for families. “The Town Hall would not allow anybody else in the area, apart from me, to leave the house. This meant that I was single-handedly shopping for and delivering to 56 families.”
She also helped organise the fundraising page for Benidorm’s British Businesses Association Food Bank which currently holds €12,713.
Through all her work she saw glimmers of positivity and put smiles on the faces of families. She even had one person tell her “Oh my goodness it feels like Christmas“ as they were so relieved to receive what they needed.
Karen felt like a mother with an extended family. From it all, she believes that is has created a caring community “My community has been so, so impressive. They have gone above and beyond, all ages came together” One thing that was especially touching is that along with some children for the village they wrote anonymous ‘notes of hope’ and added them to to the deliveries for the families to find. Karen pointed out that she will continue helping those who have suffered the knock-on effects of the crisis “There’s no greater thing than giving,” she said.
Josefina Navarro, Axarquia
UPON speaking with Josefina, or Fina as her friends call her, I immediately realised why so many people had been in touch singing her praises. She is a warm and caring woman who goes out of her way to make sure everybody else is ok.
She has been a volunteer with the Red Cross in Granada for some time and is very aware of the number of people in need in the area “There are so many people here who live alone, we help them write letters and try to cheer them up. I also have workshops which help them manage health and emotions”, she said.
Many people pointed out how Fina has helped them with setting up in Spain whether it is to do with paperwork or finding a home. Which is a little ironic as Fina herself is a political refugee from Venezuela currently trying to gain her own citizenship.
When we spoke, Fina was making plans to take a member of the community to the hospital the next day, a man who had had to have his foot amputated and she had selflessly been taking him food deliveries and checking up on him. She also has a Whatsapp group that allows her to keep in touch with the residents and greets them cheerfully to lift their spirits.
It seems she has always been very caring “In Venezuela when the doctors came from America to treat the children I would be the interpreter between them and the children’s families to make sure they were getting the correct information.”
When the crisis is over Fina will continue helping with the Red Cross and has programmes planned with them “Afterwards it will be tough but we can all get through it by helping each other.”
Jorge Gonzalez, Almeria
JORGE or George Gon as he is affectionately known to his friends works for the Town Hall in Cantoria. He has stood out among all the members of his community for all the extra work he has done to help them during the health crisis.
“When the State of Alarm started I create a small team of five people to help the old people in the area. We would do their shopping for them and deliver them face masks. We must have handed out between 30, 000 and 40,000 masks to the community”, said George and added, “We also helped with Caritas food donations, delivering food to around 30 families in need”
George a positive and cheerful man originally from Mexico moved to Spain with his Scottish wife 19 years ago and brought up their three daughters here. He has not seen any of them since the lockdown began as they were out of town, but that does not stop him from spreading his positivity.
He has also recently become the secretary for a cat rescue association Kitty Kat Almanzora Valley “I helped a couple create this association where they gather up street cats and have them treated, take care of their vet’s bills and I help translate all the paperwork.”
Having spoken to George it is clear to see why he received so many nominations he is both humble and grateful and admits that it is just in his nature to help people and he hopes to continue to help them long after the crisis is over.
Vicki McLeod, Mallorca
VICKI, a writer and photographer, wanted to do something creative with her time during the lockdown and so started a Facebook group called “Majorca, Mallorca at home together” a help group to keep people in the community that has become greatly appreciated by those in her community.
“I felt a lot of the other groups were very negative and giving out misinformation. I wanted to create a platform where the rules were to be kind and be nice to each other without spreading fear” said Vicki.
Who now considers herself the “instigator” or “head girl” among the team of friends who helped her keep the page updated and grow to have 2500 followers.
“Many people have now increased their social circle through the group by sharing good, positive news. I know there are people who are alone who are scheduling their day around the page.”
The page has included fun events like pop quizzes, competitions to win vouchers for local struggling businesses, exercise classes and any information that may help.”
Vicki is a whirlwind of positive energy and hopes that the page can continue to be a valuable resource for people that are struggling and even businesses.
“The crisis has brought a community closer, up until recently I didn’t even know my neighbours three doors down but now we all come out to clap on our doorsteps and get through it together”.
John Sharples, Costa del Sol
JOHN is a whirlwind of energy and humour and could put a smile on anybody’s face. With his personal Facebook page, he posts musings, poems and hilarious videos to lift people’s spirits.
EWN received e-mails aplenty from his supporters and fans on the Costa del Sol who believe that he has given them something to look forward to by bringing the community together through entertainment on social media.
John was eager to do food deliveries to help needy families but was aware of the restrictions in movement, he explained, “I would let people know where my car would be parked and leave it unlocked so they could fill it with donated food. Then friends that I know who did the deliveries could pick the donations up from there.” John also runs the What’s on in La Cala de Mijas page where he has kept the community up-to-date with information on the virus and the news unfolding in the hope of dispelling any fear and setting people’s minds at ease.
“I love helping people, thousands of people have followed the page now because they know they can get accurate news from there,” said John.
Many of his followers would wait patiently for the live bingo he organised where he sent out hundreds of bingo cards for everyone to play, usually 200 or more people.
Apart from his online presence, John has been helping different charities. He has arranged with the local La Cala Lions organisation to provide jigsaws to those who need them to relieve the boredom of lockdown and has been collecting dog and cat food for ACE and taking it to the kennels in his van. John has started slowing the page down now and directed his followers towards the best news sources. “I want the page to get back to letting people know what is going on in the area and also to start helping local businesses and giving them a boost when they need it most.”
There is one thing for sure, lockdown would have been very boring on the Costa del Sol had it not been for John Sharples.