surinenglish

Sunshine at Nerja Residents’ Day, with the shadow of Brexit

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Local dance groups performed at the international event. / EUGENIO CABEZAS

  • Even with the sun and light-hearted atmosphere, Brits attending the 18th Residents’ Day couldn’t help talking of their concern over Britain's departure from the EU

The 18th Nerja Residents’ Day took place on Plaza de España on Sunday. Thirty-four stalls represented the large number of associations, companies and other organisations that are formed by, or work with, foreigners in the town. There were music and dance performances from a number of local Spanish and foreign groups, as well as a movie quiz and the American International Club presented a donation.

More than 2,500 people attended the event that aims to demonstrate how the different nationalities that make up Nerja’s approximately 21,000-strong population live and collaborate together. Of that number, 5,970 people registered on the town hall ‘padrón’ are foreigners, 2,173 being from the UK.

However, not even the glorious sunshine and light-hearted festive atmosphere could quell concerns over Brexit, with last Wednesday’s official triggering of Article 50 still fresh in many people’s minds.

“There are a lot of interests at stake for things to change radically and we trust that everything will remain as normal after Brexit,” 72-year-old Anthony I. Foster, who has lived in Nerja since 1981 told SUR. The mood had changed considerably from last year’s event, when the referendum was a source of conversation, albeit with a generally more optimistic view from the town’s large British community that it would never happen.

“Thousands and thousands of Britons bought houses in Spain in the last few decades to enjoy the climate here,” Anthony, who has published the guide to Spanish property book since 1994, continued. He said has hasn’t been able to update recently as there is so much uncertainty.

The Asociación de Intérpretes Voluntarios de los Centros Sanitarios de la Axarquía, an association which started in 1987 in Nerja and which provides an interpreting service at the el Hospital Comarcal de la Axarquía in Torre del Mar, confirmed the concerns of many patients over the future of healthcare. “If we leave the EU, what is going to happen to our European health cards?” the president, Christopher Cluderay, asked. He added that between the fall in the pound and a loss of healthcare rights, “it will mean fewer Brits going abroad for their holidays and they will spend less too. In my opinion Brexit is a disaster and the worst thing about it is that many of us who live outside the UK couldn’t vote in the referendum,” Christopher concluded.

Jacky Gómez, who has run Nerja’s foreigners’ department for over 20 years and is responsible for organising Residents’ Day, was more positive: “A solution will be found and the situation won’t be as bad as people are saying,” she said.

A spokesperson from the Nerja Solidarios de Alimentos (Nerja food bank) said, “The British have a great tradition of raising money and we have been the recipients of many organisations throughout the years. It’s important for us to be here and to collaborate with different foreign associations.”