British expat Dr Charles Betty is among nine UK nationals in Spain named in the Queen's New Year Honours List. Charles, an active charity and community worker, was awarded an MBE for services to British Nationals overseas under the UK honours system published last week. The former Welsh Fusilier, who participated in the D-Day Landings, was in the UK spending the festive season with his family when he heard the news. The delighted 95-year-old said the award had "come out of the blue", although he expressed that his only regret was that his beloved wife, who died last year, was not alive to share it with him.
"It is an enormous honour to be given an MBE and I am truly delighted. I can only thank all the many people who have supported me over the years, especially my wife, who, although now no longer with me, used to say 'Charles, you can and you will'," he said.
Charles had previously worked as a senior education inspector but took early retirement in order to move to Spain in 1985 after his ailing wife was told that her life expectancy would significantly increase if she moved to a warmer and drier climate.
It was a routine visit to the health centre in Arroyo de la Miel that gave Charles the idea of setting up the first interpreter service in a health clinic on the coast.
He also co-founded the Age Care Association, an organisation that offers assistance to British senior citizens that live in the province of Malaga.
Charles continues to contribute to the Embassy and Consulates' understanding of the needs of older British people in Spain, and, as he points out, he has no plans of retiring just yet.
"I will continue with my work and remain committed to helping more British people who need support and advice about their lives in Spain," he told SUR in English.
In 2018, Charles became the oldest student to receive a PhD from a British university. Focusing on the trend of older British migrants who return to the UK, he spent five years studying and researching under the auspices of the University of Northampton in order to attain a PhD.
Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott described Charles as a "true public servant", highlighting the fact that he had dedicated his time to helping older British nationals integrate into their communities and enjoy a successful retirement in Spain.
He also showed his delight that nine British nationals had been awarded this year, claiming it was "a real testament to the depth and diversity of the UK-Spain relationship and to the contribution that so many British nationals make to their communities across Spain".