Susan Hannam has been involved from the very start of Cudeca. SUR
Susan Hannam OBE: 'I was so shocked when he told me, I shrieked'
New Year Honours - Costa del Sol

Susan Hannam OBE: 'I was so shocked when he told me, I shrieked'

The Cudeca vice-president believes Joan Hunt would have been "thrilled" that someone at the foundation had been recognised for services to palliative care

Tony Bryant


Friday, 5 January 2024, 15:07

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Vice-president of Cudcea, and one of the cancer charity's co-founders, Susan Hannam, has been awarded an OBE for more than 30 years of work in palliative care and for making a difference to the communities in which the charity is so active.

Susan, who has lived in Benalmádena for more than 40 years, has dedicated her life to accompanying patients in their last moments. At Cudeca, which supports both patients and their loved ones, Susan has taken on a variety of roles, from developing their nursing palliative home care service to training volunteers and boosting the charity's shops. However, she had "no idea" that she had been nominated for the prestigious award until shortly before Christmas.

"I just didn't expect to receive this and I had no idea I had been nominated, so I am completely honoured. I received a telephone call from the British Embassy, who said the ambassador would like to speak to me. I was so shocked when he told me, I shrieked. My husband ran into the room to see what had happened. He thought I had fallen over," Susan explained.

Susan first met Joan Hunt, founder of the association, more than 30 years ago, and she says it was a "great pleasure" to have worked alongside "such an amazing woman".

"I met Joan at the first fundraising event at a neighbour's house in Benalmádena. That day changed my life. When I got home, I told my husband that I was going to get involved in the project. It was simply because of Joan's drive and confidence. She opened the first independent hospice in Spain and, thanks to the wonderful team of medical palliative specialists along with the very special team of volunteers, the foundation has reached pioneering levels," Susan explained.

A salute to Cudeca

Susan had plans of retirement in 2011, when she passed her 65th birthday, but she is still very much at the helm of the charity, something she says she doesn't think she will ever be able to stop doing. She feels that her OBE is more a salute to the work of Cudeca than a personal one.

"Although I feel absolutely honoured, my OBE boils down to Cudeca and the foresight and determination of Joan Hunt. This recognition is not about me, it is about Cudeca," she said.

Since Susan first became involved with Cudeca, the charity has expanded and, along with the hospice in Benalmádena, it now has nearly 30 secondhand shops and outlets in the province of Malaga along with a new one in Seville. In addition there are a training and education centre and a children's palliative care unit.

"Volunteer work is really a British heritage. The Spanish have a different attitude to this type of work. Joan Hunt knew right from the beginning what she wanted and how she was going to achieve it. Cudeca is proof of this. It is directly due to my life for the last 30 years with the Cudeca foundation that I have the honour of this accolade," Susan said.

Although she would love to receive her award at Buckingham Palace, just as Joan Hunt did, she would be "very nervous because of the protocol". She believes that Joan would be "very pleased" to know that one of her longest serving supporters had been awarded for services to palliative care.

"Joan would have been absolutely thrilled to know that someone at Cudeca had been recognised in this way. She is always with us in our hearts and memories. I have actually used Joan's old walking stick since I had a stroke, so I feel she is always with me," Susan concluded.

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