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AMBASSADOR

UK ambassador looking to find friend who helped him when he was a hard up youngster in Spain

The British Ambassador to Spain is looking to locate a long-lost friend who gave him food and a roof over his head when he found himself in a tight spot in the city of Burgos 35 years ago.

UK ambassador looking to find friend who helped him when he was a hard up youngster in Spain
Screenshot: Hugh Elliott/Twitter

British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott has shared a video on Twitter in which he reaches out to a woman called Lourdes, who gave him a helping hand on his travels around Spain back in 1984. 

In the video, Elliott explains how he’d taken a train from Carcassonne in France to the northern city of Burgos, as part of his plan to cycle to Santiago de Compostela for his Saint James’s pilgrimage.

Unfortunately for him, his bicycle ended up on another train, making it impossible for him to reach the distant campsite he was planning to stay at on his student budget.

“I found myself in a pretty tight spot, I had very little money and a sleeping tent; the campsite was several kilometres away and I didn’t have my bike,” he explains in fluent Spanish.

 

In true Spanish fashion, Elliott headed to the closest bar he could find to reflect, where he met a Canadian man who had come to Burgos to meet his Spanish girlfriend.

When she arrived at the bar and heard Elliott’s story, the young lady -who the ambassador seems to recall was called Lourdes Arnáiz – immediately offered to house him at the flat she shared with her brother.

“How many countries would have welcomed a stranger like that?” Elliott asks.

The next day, he headed to the station only to find that his bike still hadn’t arrived.

“Without hesitation, the Arnáiz family invited me to stay at theirs another night.

“It took five days for the bike to arrive. I spent all those days staying and eating with them as family without them letting me pay for anything.

“My fondness for the country and the Spanish people began here, in Burgos, 35 years ago.

Elliott, who’s in the north-central Spanish city as part of a series of official visits around Spain, now wants to take the opportunity to see and thank his long-lost friend.

“If you are still here, Lourdes, I thank you again, and would love to thank you in person.”

So, do you know a Lourdes Arnáiz?

READ MORE: Introducing the new British Ambassador to Spain

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AMBASSADOR

British ambassador’s quest to reunite with Spanish woman ends in tears

Hugh Elliott, the newly appointed British ambassador to Madrid made headlines last week when he went public with a heartwarming story about the hospitality he received from a stranger on his first trip to Burgos in 1984.

British ambassador’s quest to reunite with Spanish woman ends in tears
HMA Hugh Elliott sad he had cried more than a little at the news of his old friend. Photo: British Embassy/FCO

He described how as a student he became stranded in the northern Spanish city after his bicycle failed to arrive on the same train as him, making his onward trip to a budget campsite impossible.

But on sharing his plight with a stranger in the bar he was offered a place to stay with a Spanish family who refused to take a payment for his board and lodging.

“It took five days for the bike to arrive. I spent all those days staying and eating with them as family without them letting me pay for anything,” recalled the ambassador, who arrived at the Madrid posting in August.

“How many countries would have welcomed a stranger like that?” Elliott asked in a video he posted on his twitter account on Tuesday.

READ MORE: UK ambassador looking to find friend who helped him when he was a hard up youngster in Spain


Hugh Elliott posted a clip on Twitter recounting the story and asked for help to find Lourdes Arnáiz. 

He asked for help to track down the woman who had shown such warm hospitality, whose name he remembered was Lourdes Arnáiz.

He asked the twittersphere for help to track her down after all these years so that he could properly thank her and her family all these years later.

On Friday evening he posted a new video with the update that his quest for news of Lourdes had been successful thanks to the huge response –

He said the reaction to his first video had been “totally unexpected, overwhelming and very affectionate”

“Thanks to your support, I now have news of her, but this is the sad part,” he said, visibly emotional. “I’m very sorry to have to say that Lourdes passed away at the age of 35 from Multiple Sclerosis. I had hoped for another outcome, but alas, it isn’t so.”

 Elliott said he had spoken to Lourdes’ brother, Alfonso, whom he also knew all those years ago and who lives in Burgos with his family and the pair had resumed their friendship and would meet soon.

But in the meantime the ambassador urged those who had been touched by the story to donate something to associations dedicated to helping those sufferers of multiple sclerosis, either as volunteers or through a donation.

“if this story has touched you, and I have to say that I have cried more than in a little, there's something that you can do.” 

He pointed out that there were several organisations in Burgos dedicated to helping those with the disease, as well in Santiago, the city he was headed for in 1984 as well as in Salamanca, where he later worked as a young teacher. There is also a national organisation, he said.

“Each one of us can contribute our ‘grain of sand’ with our time as a volunteer or with a donation. Thanks for your support and the interest that you have shown in this story and thanks so much for all your endearing messages,” he said.

The ambassador then tweeted a list of organisations in the places he mentioned that support multiple sclerosis suffers.

 

 

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