surinenglish

'Life just seems nicer in the sun'

Susie Brown in a recent picture.
Susie Brown in a recent picture. / SUR
  • Susie Brown

  • After 18 years of volunteering, last August this former nurse now resident in Manilva became president of ADANA dog shelter in Estepona

It was a blind date that saw Susie Brown meet her future husband.

The year was 1999 and her friends had decided to set her up with Reg Winkworth at a friend's house in Clapham, London.

Much to their friends' surprise, the pair hit it off and just six months later they were packing in their jobs and moving to Manilva on the Costa del Sol with their two dogs and one cat.

Susie told SUR in English: "We came over here for a holiday as Reg had a holiday home here. Whilst here we said to each other, 'Why on earth are we going back to England?'

"So, about six months after our holiday we took a chance and packed in our jobs. I was working as a nurse in London at the time. But we've never regretted the decision. Life just seems nicer in the sun. And if anything, we see more of our friends and family out here!"

Susie, who was born and grew up in Jarrow, Newcastle, studied to become a nurse in Newcastle, and worked for eight years in a number of places, including South Shields General Hospital.

But she also worked as a florist for a number of years in London in the 1980s, prior to moving to Spain.

And it was during this time that she met an up-and-coming singer called Boy George.

She said: "I used to go clubbing with him and his band before they were famous. He was the prettiest thing I've ever seen. He was also very intelligent.

"I remember when he became famous my mum saw him on TV and said, 'That's Susie's friend!'"

Manilva

But the hustle and bustle of London was a far cry from the slower pace of life that was waiting for them in Manilva.

One of the most notable things that Susie remembered when she first arrived in the village was how rural it was.

She explained: "Back then there were only a handful of villas where we are now. The goats used to wander around and eat all of our plants! There's been a lot of development since then, but I think there's been too much development here."

Shortly after arriving, Susie fell pregnant with her son Sam - something that she never thought would happen.

"I called him the miracle baby," she said.

"Due to a medical condition, I was told by doctors when I was younger that I would never have children.

"I remember being at a Rolling Stones concert in Malaga and I started feeling really weird. For some reason I decided to take a pregnancy test, and when I found out I was pregnant you could have knocked me over with a feather, I was that shocked. But it was the best thing that's ever happened to me and I never thought I would say that."

Susie and Reg married in Gibraltar in 2011 with their son as the ring bearer.

But over the years Susie has become heavily involved in the dog shelter ADANA (Association for the Rights of Abandoned Animals) in Estepona.

And after 18 years of volunteering, last August she became the President (alongside Reg who is the Treasurer).

Susie, who is a keen walker, added: "Reg, who retired before me and is an electrician, started getting involved in repairs at the shelter, whilst I got involved doing coffee mornings and fundraising. It's become a full-time job for both of us now, we spend all of our spare time volunteering there, which is very tiring!

Satisfaction

"But I get so much satisfaction in making a change to the dogs' lives, it sounds soppy and cliché, but that's how it is.

"It's been hard work for both of us since we arrived in Spain, but I could not have enjoyed myself more.

"We've got no plans to go back to the UK at all, this is our life now. Our son is in the UK at University in Brighton. This is the longest I've ever lived anywhere, so this is home for me now."

For more information on ADANA visit www.adana.es/en