Former Huddersfield gymnast and pub landlord Brian Hayhurst and his wife Elaine are ex-pats who have lived just outside Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol for 20 years. He writes every fortnight for Huddersfield Hub.

This week I want to salute a great friend of ours and a wonderful lady, Elaine Conroy, who has just celebrated her 70th birthday in typically charitable style.

Elaine was born in Huddersfield and grew up in the town but now lives here on the Costa del Sol. She is close to our hearts and the hearts of hundreds of friends here too.

Elaine works tirelessly to try and help the ever full animal rescue centres which take in abandoned and mistreated dogs, cats and other creatures.

My wife Elaine and I have known Elaine and hubby Allen for almost 50 years through travel, sport, properties and leisure activities.

Elaine lived and went to school with her three brothers in Netherton prior to attending Colne Valley High. A multi sports person, taking seriously to hockey, netball and cricket, she was always easily on top of all her sports.

She met Allen at Crow Lane Youth Club in Milnsbridge in the 60s but they waited until 1976 to get married.

Allen and Elaine Conroy (left) with family members Christine and Keith Sykes and (right) Elaine Hayhurst.

Together they embarked on 30 years of successful and prestigious working positions, mainly in the Middle East.

Some of the countries they lived in include Jordan, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Zambia and Dubai. Then there’s also Qatar and UAE where Elaine worked as a confidential secretary to an executive manager of Offshore Operations. Allen was CEO for power and water at several of the locations.

Always generous and kind, especially where animals are concerned, Elaine for her 70th birthday party last week invited over 80 friends, golf pals and rescue group organisers to join her for a party. There was bubbly on arrival, a lavish meal, open bar and entertainment by some of the Costa’s top performers.

She insisted on no gifts but asked guests, if they wish, to put money into any of the multiple animal rescue groups she supported.

A total of €1,450 was raised which was handed out immediately to three of the groups who were represented on the evening.

Whilst abroad Elaine qualified as a top aerobics instructor and was a personal trainer at several hotels, plus private clients, including two daughters of a royal family.

They decided to settle here in Spain in 2007, bringing back with them a dog (Ivory) they rescued from the desert.

Altogether they have given a home to three rescue dogs, several cats and a donkey. Even now they feed five feral cats in their garden. Their latest treasured dog, Luke, now gives them much pleasure after his 11 years at a centre.

Elaine Conroy (centre) with Michelle Daniels and Gary Goodmaze

Elaine Conroy (right) with golf partner Catherine Shiels

Earlier in their lives they built and lived in a villa in Aguadulce, a town in Roquetas, where they entertained family and friends but finally retired here in 2014.

Allen became an enthusiastic padel player whilst Elaine, fluent in Spanish, soon became an excellent golfer with a local club and has set herself a target handicap of 20.

When asked: “Would you ever go back?” as with most people we know, they said: “Never say never but the weather here, the entertainment and leisure time opportunities are in abundance! So no, but I miss my family in the UK…”

Elaine is a tenacious and driven lady who we think will go on helping others for years to come.

Finally, last week saw a dramatic fire in a storage warehouse in Marbella port which destroyed over 80 expensive boats, 15 jet-skis and hundreds of tools, equipment and other belongings.

The Mayor of Marbella suggested that it might have been caused by a spark. Witnesses described a huge blaze which sent alarm throughout the fishing harbour as the veracious fire quickly devoured the building and its contents.

Thirty firefighting units and two tankers were quickly on hand early evening to try and deflect the flames from other yachts moored nearby. It spread rapidly because of the fuel and other flammable materials being stored.

READ MORE: Catch up on Brian’s previous blogs HERE