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.



Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Mayor tightens rules for ‘Saloufest’ partiers

The mayor of Salou, a town that has become part of an annual pilgrimage of thousands of binge-drinking young Brits is forbidding people from using a local football stadium to party.

Mayor tightens rules for 'Saloufest' partiers
Photo: Shutterstock

Each spring, hordes of British students pour into the popular Salou beach resorts for university sports festival Saloufest – much to the joy of business-owners and the dismay of locals who dread their annual drunken antics.

Now, the mayor of Reus, just outside of Salou in Catalonia where Saloufest takes place, is forbidding party-goers from using the local football stadium after complaints on Monday.

Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reported on Tuesday that an event in the stadium on Monday intended to be football-related turned instead into a show of heavy-drinking with young people walking around the pitch, leaving behind trash and sitting on the pitch.

The official Twitter of the local football team that plays in the stadium, CF Reus, tweeted on Monday "When we say 'occupy the stadium', we did not mean 'this'. Many thanks to Saloufest 2015 for permitting this."

Saloufest reportedly brings in millions to the Catalan town and this year marks the 15th edition.

The event's dubious reputation sunk even lower in 2010 when a British girl told police she had been raped during the alcohol-fuelled celebrations.