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Scott Huston with his pet cockatiel, Becky.
Scott Huston with his pet cockatiel, Becky. / SUR

A charitable way to do business locally

  • The animal-lover decided to set up a charity rather than buy a vintage Jaguar to celebrate his 50th

Scott Huston, originally from the USA, and his Danish wife Nete have come up with an innovative way of raising money for animal charities in the Axarquía and also helping local businesses to attract customers. They have established the ¡Give Me Five! charity.

The couple have lived in Spain for nearly 12 years and Scott says that his wife “is the clever one, a dentist”, while he was “a meat head golf pro, teaching not touring”.

He says: “It took me 29 years to find a way to escape from the United States. As it turned out I discovered I was good with a stick and ball.” After passing the tournament qualifying process, Scott became a member of the Professional Golf Association (PGA) and a couple of years later he decided to look for a job in Europe and ended up in Denmark.

“If your workspace is outdoors, you should research the local climate before applying for a job. As it turns out Denmark is about the last place you’d choose in this regard. For four long years I stood on the driving range giving lessons in the cold, the dark, the wind, and the rain,” Scott jokes.

In 2005, he and his wife moved to Spain, which he says came as a bit of a shock after the “predictability” of Denmark; “the thrill of faulty wiring, unpredictable plumbing, diabolical ITV tests, and a whole raft of other issues that Danes would call ‘ass irritations’.”

¡Give Me Five! began in 2016, coinciding with Scott’s 50th birthday. “I thought it would be a bit too cliché to buy a vintage Jaguar, I have a functional 11-year-old Peugeot 206, or to take on a mistress, I have a functional 42-year-old wife, so why not start an animal charity?” he laughs.

Scott says of working for an animal charity: “There are many difficult tasks involved in animal rescue. Some are tedious, for example trapping cats for sterilising. Others are demanding but rewarding. Others are heartbreaking but only one is truly odious: fundraising. Friends stop returning your calls, shop owners lock their doors and turn off the lights if they see you coming; eventually even your immediate family ‘defriends’ you on Facebook!”

With this challenge ahead the animal lover says that the mission then was to find a way where people received more in than they gave and after much thought he came up with the idea of ¡Give Me Five!

Scott explains that ¡Give Me Five! members get a five per cent discount on all transactions with the businesses who are associated with the scheme. Each member pays 50 euros for six months during which the membership fees are distributed to the various animal charities in the area. They are given a membership card to show when they use the businesses featured in a booklet which is printed four times a year.

“Businesses which participate do so at no cost, and simply have to guarantee that they will offer the five per cent discount to any ¡Give Me Five! member who produces a valid membership card. In addition, each business partner gets a free advertisement in the quarterly discount booklet which is distributed to members,” Scott explains.

The charities that ¡Give Me Five! supports are Axarquía Animal Rescue (AAR), Asociación Protectora de Animales Rincón de la Victoria (APARiV), A.P.A Nerja Estación Esperanza, Costa Animal Society (CAS), Torrox Animal International League (TAIL), Galgo Freedom, Valle Verde Animal Rescue and Give A Dog A Home Rescue Malaga.

A year in and Scott is frank but hopeful about ¡Give Me Five!’s success rate. “To be honest, the concept has not quite caught on the way I imagined. People seem to be confounded by where the five per cent goes. Also, the 50 euro upfront fee seems to be a much higher hurdle that I thought it would be.”

Nevertheless ¡Give Me Five! has been able to donate several thousands of euros to the animal rescue groups it works with and Scott is confident that as the idea catches on, the charity will be able to donate more and more in the coming years.

The other, perhaps inevitable, outcome of running an animal charity is the number of pets the couple has; six parrots (four cockatiels and two African greys), five cats, four dogs, three turtles and a pond with, at last count, says Scott, 92 fish.

“We spend a lot of time picking up poop,” he laughs.