Candida Wright MBE, HELP of Marina Alta

Family is very important to Candy Credit: Candida Wright

An impulsive decision to move the family to Denia when Candy was thirteen led to the happiest times of her life.

Originally from Richmond, Surrey, Candy found a love for theatre, acting, and dance at a very young age. At the tender age of six, she attended a dance stage academy run by Babette Palmer, none other than the mother of Bonnie Langford.

Her love for the arts continued, and she appeared in a number of adverts and dance shows at the Richmond Theatre before attending Richmond Academy to study classical ballet, tap, modern and jazz dance.

Then, a week’s holiday with three friends in Denia led to her father’s decision to move there, which they did in 1973. At that time, Franco was still in power, and there existed just a small community of expats.

Candy recalls how she was “the only English schoolgirl along with one English schoolboy in an otherwise Spanish school.”  She looks back fondly on her time growing up in Spain as a teenager and considers it the “happiest time of my life with so much freedom to have fun and enjoy the good times.”

HELP of Marina Alta

She attended her first meeting of what would become HELP of Marina Alta after being approached by a small group of older ladies looking to create a group to help British expats who had health problems or were getting on in years. Candy recalled, “I attended the first meeting in my early twenties and offered to drive, shop, or do whatever was needed.”

Over the next fifteen years, the Organisation evolved to address the issues facing the growing number of expats in the Marina Alta area, mainly concerned with the medical challenges associated with not speaking Spanish.  They set up an interpreters group, of which Candy was one, and assisted with doctor and hospital appointments.

Today, she is President of the Organisation and runs a team of fifteen interpreters and fifteen receptionists. They now have 54 hospital beds, which they regularly loan out—so much so that Candy feels they need to buy more. Aside from beds, they provide a whole host of medical equipment, including wheelchairs, large and small wheeled hoists, walkers, Zimmer frames, crutches, toilet raisers, commodes, showers, chairs, and stools.

HELP of Marina Alta Charity Shops

They also have three charity shops in La Jara, Teulada, and the newest one in Javea, from which they also provide medical equipment.  The charity has grown significantly in numbers since it first started as HELP of Denia and now amasses 100 active volunteers, working across the office, hospital desk, shops and as drivers.

Their main aim today is to support expats who are struggling to care for loved ones with Alzheimers, dementia, and Parkinsons.

Careline Theatre

When not fulfilling her role as President of HELP of Marina Alta, Candy enjoys being President of Careline Theatre. She shared, “I have been involved in amdram for about 35 years here in Spain. I direct productions and act and sing in shows myself, as I just love the theatre, and it is like a second home to me.”

For those looking to move to Spain, Candy has one very sound piece of advice: “Don’t expect people to speak English in public services; take an interpreter!”

Reflecting on her life in Spain, Candy recognises that her husband’s support throughout her absences doing what she does has been invaluable. She smiled as she admitted, “He has never complained, and I love him for this.” Family is very important to Candy; she adores her two wonderful children and gorgeous grandchildren.

Loving life the way Candy does, it was a little surprising to hear that she does have one big regret.  When asked, she answered wistfully, “Only that both my parents are no longer here with me.  They would have loved being part of it all.”

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Written by

Donna Williams

Marketer, copywriter, storyteller and President of Samaritans in Spain. They say variety is the spice of life and I am definitely loving life!