Fifty-six members of the English Speaking Club of Malaga (ESCM) celebrated the club's 50th anniversary with a lunch at Restaurante Bagazo in Huelin on 27 October.
Although there were no original members present at the celebration, one couple, with a 40 year association, did attend.
Mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, and the Deputy Mayor and councillor for Tourism and City Promotion, Rosa Sánchez, joined the celebration.
De la Torre, who has made appearances at other ESCM events in the past also sent a letter of congratulations, written in English, to the club, in which he acknowledged "the significant contribution that 50 years of fellowship has made to life in the city."
In 1971 some of Malaga city's residents felt there was space for an international social club using English as a common language. Nine friends of various nationalities living in Malaga City at the time founded and formalised the group.
The circle of friends grew over the years and continues to attract interest from international residents and Spaniards who want to socialise, with English as the common language.
The club says that its main purpose is to "get to know and understand other cultures, to learn and exchange Spanish and English languages, and to share social relationships in a friendly and respectful atmosphere."
The club has always met twice a week. On Tuesdays a more formal meeting normally takes place at Bodega el Pimpi in Calle Granada, where members and invited guests give talks about a range of different topics, in English.
The Friday evening meetings have, according to long-standing ESCM member, Peter Saliba, been more "informal" and have been held in different venues over the years.
The Friday meetings have been more like a language exchange and have, over time, provided an opportunity for those learning English to practice with natives and indeed those learning Spanish to have the opportunity to improve their skills.
Peter, who moved to Malaga in 1984 when he was in his forties, soon joined the club along with his Spanish wife, Carmen. He explained that along with the regular meetings, there have been excursions and members have even invited people to their houses for events.
Another long-term member and resident of Malaga is Sirkka Blom, who is originally from Sweden, but has lived in Malaga permanently since 1993. Sirkka and her late husband joined the club in the late 1970s when they would visit the city once a year on holiday. "We heard about the club and thought it would be a good opportunity to meet other English speakers," Sirkka explained to Sur in English.
In 2007 she was elected as the club's president, a role she held until 2017, making her the person to hold the role for the longest period of time. Her husband became club secretary, a post he also held from 2007-17. "It is a very special club and we are lucky to have been part of it, I have met a lot of friends over the years," said Sirkka.
She adds that sadly, many of the first friends they met have since passed away, but that the club continues to thrive with people who have been in Malaga for many years and others who have joined more recently.
While most members live in Malaga city, there have been and are people who come in from the coastal towns such as Torremolinos and Rincón de la Victoria.
Peter, who was on the committee for a number of years, but stepped down in 2018, puts the success of the club down to the twice-weekly meetings. "People who are working and unable to attend the Tuesday meetings can normally find time to get to the Friday evening ones," he says.
There was originally a membership fee, but this has since been scrapped. Sirkka added that the current secretary, Susan Eardley, has been central to the club's continuing success in recent years thanks to her organisational skills.
Since Covid restrictions have been relaxed, some functions have been able to resume. When possible they continue to meet in El Pimpi on Tuesdays and the Hotel Ilunion on Fridays.
For further information about the club visit: http://englishspeakingclubofmalaga.blogspot.com.