Following new legislation that shops, including charity shops, must charge customers for
plastic bags, HELP Vega Baja thought they would look for an alternative solution. After
looking for sponsorship, President Michele Masson met up with the José Miguel Perez from
Grupo ASV and discovered that both organisations wanted to do what they could to help
“We are keen to do what we can to not only help keep costs down for the charity but to
consider the environment too. When we met with José it was wonderful to hear that he
shared the same views and we agreed to work together to produce carrier bags made of
paper! Grupo ASV covered the cost of the bags and we were delighted to take delivery of
1,000 bags last week.”
As charities have to now charge for plastic bags the situation can be a little crazy. For
example, we have heard from other charities that in some cases customers insist on new
bags as they are paying for them, rather than accept used bags that are often donated to
charities. Sadly this could lead to charities having to purchase plastic bags, which obviously
negates the whole benefit of the legislation.
The sponsorship and support we received from Grupo ASV has been terrific and the bags are
now available in the Help Vega Baja shop in San Miguel. The charity is still asking that
customers bring along their own bags when shopping and that any donations for the paper
bags will go towards future stocks. The aim of the charity is to go completely “plastic free”
for bags and it is working towards this.
Help is a registered charity which helps people of all ages with all sorts of problems within
the Vega Baja area from La Marina to Pilar de la Horadada. It has a centre at San Miguel de
Salinas which includes a charity shop and a hire centre for mobility equipment and a
helpdesk in La Marina. Each supplies a wide range of information and advice to members
and non-members alike. Typical enquiries include questions on residence, health care,
driving, bereavement, wills, burglaries and much more. If the answer to a problem is not
known immediately, every effort is made to obtain the appropriate information.
The charity has the support of a hospital visiting team which visits the Vega Baja Hospital
and is also able to send a visitor to Torrevieja hospital upon request. Help has a welfare
officer who is able to offer advice and assistance. All requests for any of these services
should be made via the San Miguel centre.
If you would like to find out more about sponsoring HELP Vega Baja with any of their
projects (bags, leaflets, posters etc), volunteering or if you have a group and you would like
the team to come along to give a talk on the charity, please contact their San Miguel Centre
on 966 723 733 or Michele Masson direct on firstname.lastname@example.org or 661365606
Around €2,500 was raised for the Butterfly Children Charity, DEBRA, when Melody
Makers International and the Orihuela Costa Male Voice Choir joined forces in a concert,
at the Orihuela Costa Resort Hotel, La Zenia recently. It was a case of standing room
only, with the "House Full" sign, prominently on display as the good people of the Costa
Blanca once again gave their full support to the event.
Two audiences, at 2pm and 8pm, were both royally entertained with a musical mix from
the pen of Sigmund Romberg, Irving Berlin, Franz Lehar, Puccini and a splendid
arrangement by Brymer of Freddy Mercury's "Bohemian Rhapsody". Special mention
perhaps in this mixed bag of wonderful music would be to Rebecca Holt with the Barry
and Robin Gibb classic, "A Woman in Love", "The Grand March" from Aida, and by the
full company, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". Classic songs from "White Horse Inn",
"The Merry Widow" and "Les Miserables" kept Saturday's audiences well entertained.
No concert by Nigel Hopkins would be complete without Jane Atkinson and Eric Berg,
taking to the stage. This year was no exception, with the dynamic duo becoming "A
Couple of Swells" from Easter Parade.
Director Nigel Hopkins was delighted to let Saturday's audiences know, that in 10 years
of bringing shows like this concert to the Costa Blanca, a total of Fifty thousand euros
has been raised and presented to local charities and so the the standing ovation given to
this Saturday's "Choral Spectacular" was even more well deserved.
The Butterfly Children Charity, DEBRA would like to thank Nigel and Pauline Hopkins and
the Melody Makers International for choosing to support the charity once again and the
audience who gave so generously to the cause, their interest in the charity is hugely
appreciated. “They truly give us wings!”
Councillor Carmen Morate has advertised the next charity fair event. It will
take place on Saturday 28 th October in the Paseo Marítimo Juan Aparicio – by
the Hombre del Mar right on the sea front next to the port car park. It’s an
opportunity for different charitable organisations to set up stalls, display goods
to sell and advertise the different ways in which people can volunteer to help
The fair will take place from 10am until 2pm and is a good opportunity for
charitable associations to raise awareness and Councillor Morate hopes to
see as many voluntary groups there as possible. There will be a number of
activities taking place during the morning too, including a zumba class led by
‘Angie’ at 10am.
There will be a small dog parade of homeless dogs from Torrevieja’s animal
shelter and a gym show at 1pm. ‘Everyone is welcome to come along with
their sports shoes and spend a fun and healthy hour with us,’ explained the
During the morning there will be a collection of food for refugee camps in the
Sarah organised by the FANS association. You can bring along non-
perishable food items such as rice and pasta, tins of tuna, oil, sugar etc. Baby
wipes would also be appreciated as a donation.
APAH goes to Iceland
Once again staff at the Iceland store in San Javier have chosen to support local animal charity APAH throughout 2017 and recently hosted an Easter Fair in aid of the cause.
Luckily the weather on the day was sunny and Iceland’s staff and customers were as supportive of APAH as ever.
Thanks to the hard work of APAH’s volunteers, there were lots of raffle tickets sold for the chance to win some fabulous prizes. These included: Iceland vouchers, and meals and gifts kindly donated by local businesses. There was a Tombola stall, which proved very popular with customers, a bric-a-brac stall with a wide range of items for sale and a chance for Iceland’s customers to enjoy a coffee and a toasted Hot Cross Bun.
The raffle was drawn at the end of the fair, and the photo shows the lucky winner of the food hamper, put together by APAH, which was presented on Monday by Iceland store manager, Lisa.
The total amount raised was 871.14 euros, and APAH would like to thank everyone who was involved in one way or another for all their hard work and support.
The next fund-raising event at Iceland San Javier will be a Summer Fair at the beginning of July.
HELP Vega Baja are delighted to announce that their office in Torrevieja is now due to re-open. The centre in Calle Rambla Juan Mateo Garcia closed temporarily in December 2016 for a period of re-structure and review. The Torrevieja office was opened over 35 years ago and was the first base for HELP. Since then they opened their office in San Miguel de Salinas 10 years ago and also have a helpdesk in La Marina.
The official re-opening of the Torrevieja office was held in April and it will now be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am until 1.30pm. The intention is to extend these opening hours to Mondays and Fridays too when sufficient volunteers are available.
President Michele Masson, is delighted at the new developments; ‘As a charity it is important that we keep up with the needs of the local community and although many people will always prefer to discuss problems face to face with our volunteers, we are also conscious that there are other ways we can offer support such as through our website, Facebook page and the talks that we offer to local groups.
We therefore took the decision to close the office, completely renovate it and prepare for the next chapter of the charity and its link with the town of Torrevieja. Our volunteers now have a very professional and comfortable environment with all the latest facilities they need at their fingertips. We aim to continue offering the advice that people rely on us for, particularly as we enter what, for the British community, can be worrying times.’
HELP Vega Baja are keen to continue to work closely with Torrevieja town hall and good links have been made with Councillor Carmen Morate who is the councillor for charities and the foreign community. ‘We are very positive that working relationships with the town hall will be strengthened and we will be able to support the OARI office in offering advice to visitors,’ explains Michele.
The office in Torrevieja will also be used for training courses, craft classes, Spanish conversation classes and they are also looking into the possibility of having a book club there. They would welcome any further suggestions from members of the public.
The Torrevieja office is the base for the welfare officer, Wendy, and solicitor Jordi Sole who will be able to make appointments and utilise the facilities for those people who live in the town. There is additional space available in the office for any charity who would also like to have their base there. There are three desks but volunteers only occupy two at the moment, leaving one free for another charity who would perhaps like to raise their profile in the town. For more information about this please contact Michele: email@example.com
‘There is never a dull moment at HELP,’ says Michele. ‘So much is going on and it would be impossible without the support we receive from everyone in the community and our great team of volunteers. We would love to hear from anyone who has a few hours a week to spare and who would like to join our team.’
For more information about HELP Vega Baja and details of their membership benefits, events or how you can help, contact their San Miguel Centre on 966 723 733 or visit their webpage www.helpvegabaja.com .
APAH awareness event at popular shopping centre
Animal rescue charity APAH was recently invited by the management team at Alcampo in Zenia Boulevard to hold a three day pet awareness event at the supermarket.
Every week, volunteers from APAH visit the store to buy food and cat litter for the cats and dogs in their care, which led Marie Carmen the department manager for the Pet Supplies Section to invite them to host the event. Tables promoting the work that APAH does were placed at the store entrances giving information on the work APAH does in rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing abandoned, neglected and abused dogs and cats in the South Costa Blanca.
It was a great opportunity for the charity to raise awareness and funds and the weekend was a huge success. As well as informing people about the work APAH does, they charity asked for volunteers, had empty trolleys for people to donate pet food and supplies and there were also photos of APAH’’s cattery, kennels and charity shops – as well as pictures of some of the dogs and cats which are currently being cared for, in the hope that some of them would be offered homes. Gary at Kameeleon, did a great rush job at short notice, printing T shirts with the APAH logo on, so that all the volunteers would be instantly recognisable.
Volunteers were overwhelmed by the amount of food donated by Alcampo’s generous shoppers both those from the expat community and Spanish. Lots of Spanish shoppers went out of their way to buy food for the charity’s dogs and cats and praised the work local charities do in the community.
Over the three-day event, trolley after trolley of food was donated and at the end the charity calculated how much money had been spent on APAH’s behalf – amount spent on food was 585.70 euros, and the amount of money donated was 290.15, making a total of 875.85, all of which will be used for the animals in the charity’s care and is a huge saving.
APAH would like to thank the staff and management of Alcampo, the shoppers and its own volunteers for making the weekend such a huge success.
Barefoot and raising money
Mother and daughter on barefoot walk
A 34 year-old woman and her two-year-old daughter arrived in Torrevieja on 3rd January on their journey from Barcelona to Gibraltar. Not only are they completing this journey on foot by they are doing it barefoot. Their very long walk began in Barcelona 53 days ago and together they will ultimately cover more than a thousand kilometres. The purpose of this gruelling trek is to raise money to buy shoes for children in Nairobi.
Ilse Longuet and her daughter Helinah have been enjoying the past few days of mild weather. During the very bad rains towards the end of December, they took refuge in a campsite in Valencia. Now Ilse is relieved that the Spanish climate is proving to be more helpful to her mission. Whilst walking, Ilse has been learning and practising her Spanish and was able to talk openly to reporters about her life and her ambition.
Ilse is a guide in an interactive science museum in Ostend, Belgium. The intention is to purchase shoes for disadvantaged children who live in Kibera which is a suburb of Nairobi. Since November 11th she has been walking around 10 to 20km a day. Where possible she has walked along the beach or she uses secondary roads.
When asked if her feet were hurting she explained that her feet were fine but her back was suffering a little from carrying her daughter in an African-style baby carrier. During her quest Ilse has been greeted warmly by Spaniards and has been welcomed into their homes. Next she has been guaranteed accommodation in Cartagena and she is well on her way to having raised the €4,000 she is aiming to have collected by the time she arrives in Gibraltar.
There have been some moments, however, when Ilse has not felt quite so welcome. In a town north of Castellón she was detained by the local policeafter someone alerted them to the woman who was walking barefoot with someone else’s child on her back.
Once she arrives in Gibraltar she will travel with her partner to Kenya and buy the shoes, water filters and food for the children who need it so desperately and who live in such poor homes. The people of Torrevieja wish her good luck.
Three rescued as sanctuary recovers from flooding
A donkey cruelly hobbled and left to stand alone without shelter throughout last month’s torrential rainfall is now safe from harm thanks to the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre (EHCRC).
The Rojales sanctuary rescued the donkey, named Dulce Dawn, on Boxing Day in a joint operation with San Javier police, even as the centre itself battled major flooding caused by a week of wet and wild weather.
Dulce Dawn had been found crudely tied to prevent her from moving, with rope wrapping from her head to her front and back legs – a technique known as hobbling. A shocking video depicting the hobbled donkey, posted on the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre’s Facebook page, has attracted international condemnation.
“This case went far beyond normal hobbling,” said Easy Horse Care co-founder Sue Weeding, who said that the donkey is also possibly in foal.
“While a lot of Spanish farmers do tether their horses in fields with rope, they don’t normally hobble them and certainly not like this. It was horrendous and barbaric and we suspect it was not even legal.”
Just one day later, on 27th December, Sue and her husband Rod Weeding were again called out by San Javier police to rescue another two ponies found wandering down a road in the same area.
Check-ups by the vet later revealed the stallion, believed to be about 14 years old, has one deformed hoof, while the mare, about 7 years old, is malnourished and could be in foal – but ultrasound tests conducted on 30th December were inconclusive.
Sue said: “It is looking probable that she is in foal but it’s difficult sometimes to get an accurate read with the mobile ultrasound. The other possibility is that she has a load of worms, which is why her belly is so big and she looks quite poorly. Our equine veterinarian will do another ultrasound in two weeks to confirm the situation.”
The three rescues came as the husband and wife team battled thick mud and used electric pumps to expel water from the fields and stables which were deluged with water in the recent floods.
The couple also discovered that the torrential weather had damaged a huge amount of expensive ‘forage’ that they’d bought in from northern Spain to feed their horses over the winter period.
“Our hay shelter is simply too small now that we have 102 rescued equines to feed, and although we did cover the forage up, it obviously got wet and started to go mouldy. Most of it couldn’t be salvaged, which was an absolute shame,” Sue said.
But she said the couple were buoyed by a show of support, with many kind locals generously donating to help cover the unexpected cost of replacement hay. Just €5 buys one entire hay bale, but many people donated much more, Sue said.
Your help is needed
As they attempt to get back on their feet, the Weedings are calling for donations of good-quality furniture items to sell in their network of six charity stores. The centre’s English tack shop is also offering half price off many brand new saddles, riding clothes and tack items until 31st January, in a bid to raise further funds. The equestrian store is located at the rescue centre and is open from 10am to 3pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Monetary donations are also gratefully received and can be made securely online at www.easyhorsecare.net/donate/one-off-donation.
Meanwhile, long-time supporter Louise Bradley of Looking Good Boutique in La Zenia has already sold five of the 20 elegant pieces donated to the cause by Canadian designer Joseph Ribkoff, raising €745 for the rescued horses at the Centre so far.
The Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre relies entirely on donations to fund its animal welfare work, including the feeding and care of the centre’s 102 horses, ponies and donkeys rescued from abuse, neglect and abandonment. For further information call Sue Weeding on 652 021 980.
Located just outside Rojales at Partido Lo Garriga, 59, the centre opens to the public on the first Sunday of every month between 1pm and 4pm. Free horse tours run throughout the afternoon and refreshments are available in the café. For more details and directions, please visit www.easyhorsecare.net
Reports of 160 horses left to starve
Many of the animals in skeletal state
Almost 80 horses are being left to starve in a field near Albacete and another 80 are suffering the same fate in Murcia, according to reports received by the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre in Rojales this week.
Easy Horse Care co-founder Sue Weeding understands concerned residents in both areas have reported the neglect cases to police, but officers are hamstrung as no rescue centre has the funding or facilities to take so many horses at once.
“It’s crazy that everybody knows these animals are starving but nobody can do anything because there’s nowhere to put them, nowhere for these animals to be rescued to,” Sue said.
“Everybody’s wringing their hands wanting somebody to do something, but no one knows what to do – even the police don’t know.
“We just feel so frustrated. If we had the money and the facilities, we would be there in a heartbeat. I would do anything to get those horses out; but we need help. We need funding and we need space. If we had that, we could and would do it immediately.”
Residents from Caudete in Albacete are concerned about a breeding yard that is apparently failing to adequately feed its horses. Photographs seen by Easy Horse Care show extremely thin broodmares with malnourished, young foals at their sides.
It is believed that about 20 horses have not been fed properly for five months and are in an extreme state of malnutrition. Some mares are no longer able to produce milk for their foals. Three foals are reportedly so thin they can barely stand up. The other 60-odd horses appear to be in a slightly better condition but are being kept in filthy stables, constantly standing in their own faeces.
Sue said she had offered to take two horses – the maximum the sanctuary could house on top of its current 99 rescued horses, ponies and donkeys – but was told the horses’ owner was refusing to surrender his animals and police had not yet enacted a formal seizure order.
It is understood another 80 horses are suffering a similar fate on a property in Fortuna, near Murcia.
“It isn’t just the odd horse tucked away here and there. This is a huge problem and it’s going on all the while. As the crisis bites in, more and more animals are suffering and quite often in large groups, where breeders stick them out on the land and just keep the mares in foal,” Sue said.
“There has to be some sort of solution to these crises. This sort of thing just cannot go on, where there’s nowhere to place these animals. We urgently need to create a proper animal welfare system here, like those that exist in the UK and other European Union countries.”
The Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre relies entirely on donations to fund its important animal welfare work. The centre will open free to the public on Sunday, 8th January from 1pm to 4pm. For more details and directions, please visit www.easyhorsecare.net.
New Year's Day Swim
Fundraisers brave cold water for good cause
The annual New Year’s Day swim in aid of the AECC and organised by The Blarney Stone too place at Playa Flamenca Beach on Sunday. This was the third year the event has been held and attracted 14 brave…or foolhardy…swimmers.
Whilst most of us were nursing a delicate head, these people were braving the distinctly nippy med in order to raise money for charity. So far the group has raised just over 1900 euros and there is still more sponsorship money and fundraising planned. In total the organisers hope to raise more than 2,500 euros, which would beat last year’s event total of 2,000 euros.
The money will be handed over to AECC fundraising group Maria and the Pink Ladies at a Presentation Evening at the Blarney Stone on 26th January where another raffle will be held to boost the total amount.
Anti-cancer charity the AECC provides a subsidised Early Detection Programme for men and women, checking for prostate, breast, cervical and skin cancers.
Sunday finally saw hundreds of people flock to Zenia Boulevard to put their best foot forward for charity with the annual Santa Walk. Organised by Maria and the Pink Ladies, all of the money raised goes directly to the Spanish anti-cancer charity, the AECC.
This year, as always, the walkers and those who came along to give their support, got into the festive Spirit of the walk and dressed in fancy dress. Of course, there were lots of Father and Mrs Christmas’ but also, snowmen, elves, rein-dogs and Santa-dogs.
More than 100 people registered for the walk, at €5 per person, and people also made donations raising a total of €1,056.04….which is €1.04 more than last year! This was the seventh annual Santa Walk and the third to be held at the shopping centre. The walk is a 5k circuitous route from Zenia Boulevard and although it is a walk people are able to run, jog, cycle, skate or be pushed round. Following the walk there was live entertainment and Sunshine FM played festive tunes.
People also brought along toiletry items for the teenage children at Elche Children’s Home – such as deodorant, shower gel, perfume, aftershave, body lotion, moisturiser – and items of dried or tinned food stuffs for Reach Out to help feed those in need this Christmas. These collections were presented to representatives of the charity as part of the event.
The Pink Ladies said: “Thank you to all the walkers and to everyone who made donations of food and toiletries. Thanks also go to Simon Morton and Dan Davy of Sunshine FM for providing the music at Zenia Boulevard and on the walk, to Trainer John for the use of his truck, to Zenia Boulevard for hosting the event, the police who escorted us and big thank you to all the Pink Ladies and Panthers who took part.”
All the money raised will be used by the AECC to subsidise its Early Detection Programme which offers cancer screening tests for men and women against several types of cancer.
The AECC Office at Playa Flamenca Commercial Centre will be closed from 17th December to 9th January 2017. Appointments can still be made on the Maria and the Pink Ladies webpage: www.pinkladies.es and for emergencies, call Maria directly on 633 487 595.
Since forming in June 2010, Maria and the Pink Ladies and Panthers have raised more than €303,700 on behalf of the AECC.
Auction raises €1670 for rescued horses
A charity art auction benefitting abused and neglected horses living at the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre near Rojales has raised €1670 – enough to buy 335 bales of winter hay for the horses, ponies and donkeys.
Organised by volunteers Isabel Sodric and Koren Helbig, the Rescue Centre fundraiser included an online sale followed by a live auction at The October Press in Alicante on Saturday 26th November. Originals artworks donated by 28 artists from seven countries were sold to raise funds, with some pieces going to buyers living as far afield as Australia.
Easy Horse Care co-founder Sue Weeding said she was humbled by the response, which comes as the rescue centre enters the difficult winter and Christmas period when charity shop sales plummet and hay prices almost double to €5 a bale.
The Rojales-based sanctuary now cares for 99 horses, ponies and donkeys, after yet another skeletal horse was rescued just last Wednesday.
Sue said: “We are so grateful to receive this money, as it just gives us a bit of a push to keep going after a difficult year. A huge thank you goes to each of these artists, because having their support really has been so uplifting. Seeing such support roll in from all over the world has made us feel like people do value what we are doing and achieving.
“We are also so overjoyed to see so many Spanish people getting involved and wanting to be a part of improving animal welfare in their own country. What a positive end to the year.”
Isa and Koren said they were delighted to see so many people support the fundraiser both online and during the live auction, and that they hoped the money raised would help Easy Horse Care as it battled for funding during the quieter and colder winter months.
Supporters are reminded that the January open day date has changed to avoid falling on New Year’s Day. Instead, the centre will open for free to the public on the second Sunday of the month, 8th January from 1pm to 4pm. For more details and directions, please visit www.easyhorsecare.net. Rescue Centre co-founder Sue Weeding can also be contacted on +34 652 021 980 or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.