Costa del Sol-based Anne Hernández has been awarded an MBE for services to British nationals in Spain in the Queen's birthday honours list published this Friday, 11 June.
Anne has been at the helm of the organisation Brexpats in Spain since it was founded to keep British residents informed of their rights and responsibilities prior to the UK's exit from the EU.
A retired university lecturer, Anne moved to Spain over 30 years ago and is now based in Mijas Costa.
As president of Brexpats in Spain, Anne has been honoured, not just for making sure residents have all the right information, but also for championing key issues, helping UK nationals to access services, lobbying the Spanish local authorities for improvements and supporting the embassy and consulates to disseminate accurate information, according to the British embassy in Madrid.
British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott said: “Anne has given freely and selflessly of her time, actively and practically supporting UK nationals, the Embassy, and the Spanish authorities. As the driving force behind Brexpats in Spain, Anne has brought together a body of trusted experts to provide free and accurate information to members; ensuring UK nationals are aware of their rights and take the necessary actions to protect them. Her work has had an indisputably positive effect on the lives of so many UK nationals living in Spain.”
Anne Hernández said: “I have never in my life refused help to anybody and, to think that just by offering that same kindness to my fellow Brits in Spain could result in this prestigious award, it is honestly overwhelming. Steering one’s way through the maze of requirements and changes since Brexit hasn’t been easy for many and I am honoured that my help to them has been recognised in this way.”
Three more MBEs come to Spain
Like Anne, the other three British nationals in Spain to receive MBEs in the birthday honours list also run prominent citizens’ rights organisations.
As Chair of Bremain in Spain, Sue Wilson is one of the most visible campaigners for the rights of UK nationals in the EU. When moving to Spain to retire over 10 years ago, she had no experience of advocacy, campaigning work or speaking in public. However, the result of the 2016 EU referendum affected her deeply and since then she has worked on the issue of UK nationals’ rights in various different ways. Sue has lobbied UK and EU influencers and made great efforts to inform the UK Government’s work on citizens’ rights, including appearing in front of the Select Committee for Exiting the EU.
Based in Madrid, Michael Harris is the founder and Vice-President of EuroCitizens and a British in Europe committee member.
A long-time resident of Spain, and a former teacher and writer of English-language textbooks, Michael founded the grassroots organisation EuroCitizens in September 2016. The group’s purpose was, and remains, to defend the rights of UK nationals in Spain and has particularly provided a forum for those of working age.
A former member of the armed forces, Debbie Williams, based in the Valencia region, set up the grass roots organisation Brexpats - Hear Our Voice (BHOV) as a pan-European group a few days after the EU Referendum in June 2016. Moving from Belgium to Spain shortly afterwards, she continued her lobbying, engagement and awareness-raising efforts, considering the impact of the UK’s departure from the EU on both UK Nationals in Europe and EU Nationals in the UK.