Simon Manley says adiós to Spain

Simon Manley and his wife, during his speech to guests at his residence last week.
Simon Manley and his wife, during his speech to guests at his residence last week. / F. L.
  • The British ambassador, who has shown special support for the Costa del Sol during his nearly six years in Madrid, heads back to London to await his next posting

Simon Manley, who has been the British ambassador to Spain since 2013, put on a farewell reception at his Madrid residence on Thursday last week to mark the end of his term at the helm of the British diplomatic service in Spain.

Few ambassadors have contributed so much towards promoting Malaga and the Costa del Sol among their compatriots, and it's only fair to recognise his merits and the enormous support he has given to this area in all aspects related to the UK.

Well aware of the importance of tourism, Manley has stood out for the help given to the favourite destinations among the British, especially the province of Malaga, to which he is linked in a number of ways.

Malaga has always had an important place on the agenda of the ambassador, who has a good personal relationship with the city's mayor, Francisco de la Torre.

His visits to this area have been frequent, always looking for common interests and ways of bringing the British and Spanish communities together.

"Spain will always be in my heart; it will always be with me and with my family," he said in a brief and emotional farewell speech in front of around a hundred guests at the event.

"Thank you for being here, because you are my friends," added Manley, who gave a brief summary of his time as ambassador, using figures to compare the two countries' relationship between 2013 and today. In all fields these have increased significantly, especially in terms of financial transactions and tourist flow.

"I hope you don't forget me, because I'll never be able to forget you," said the ambassador, whose Spanish wife, María Isabel Manley, is a prestigious lawyer, specialising in intellectual property, competition and regulation in the pharmceutical and chemical sectors in the UK and Europe, and partner in one of London's most important law firms.

"This stage in my life has been very important, not just for me, but also for my family. I want to thank them, my team members, and all of you who help relations between two great countries such as ours, for your collaboration and support," added the British diplomat, clearly emotional.

The farewell party was attended by MP for Malaga province Carolina España as well as the president of International Airlines Group (IAG, the company formed after the fusion of British Airways and Iberia), Antonio Vázquez, who is also from Malaga.

"Malaga and Bilbao are the two Spanish cities that have seen a bigger and better transformation in the last 20 years, and now they are clear international benchmarks," the ambassador told his Malaga guests.

"Even though I won't be ambassador to Spain, I hope you keep inviting me to the SUR dinner held in London for the World Travel Market," said Manley, who now heads back to the British capital to discover his next destination. Washington? Time will tell.