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.

Despite a tornado in Marbella and torrential rain this week, towns and villages up and down the Costas are making a big effort to help brighten up streets for residents with some innovative and spectacular LED lighting decorations, preparing for the festive season ahead.

Most town halls are cutting down on cost by ensuring that displays are time limited. Within many communities there is a large number of selfless, hardworking volunteer charity workers who are tireless in their efforts to help others.

One such man is Alan Boardman, who raises money for a long list of charity groups which are struggling to keep their heads above water.

Alan, with a vast historical knowledge of the region, takes groups of a dozen or so on fascinating three-hour walking tours of the beautiful, picturesque pueblo (village) of Mijas.

He asks of those on his mostly sold-out tours, a minimum donation of €5 and, after two months of collecting, hands the cash to a growing list of nominated needy groups.

Alan was a national account manager for a national heating company near his home town of Chorley, Lancashire, where he lived before eventually moving to the Costa del Sol 17 years ago.

Besides several other events to raise money, Alan attracts large crowds for his regular quizzes at Fibbers Irish Bar in Fuengirola.

Alan and his wife Jenny now have an art and jewellery outlet in the historical centre of Mijas pueblo.

The Mijas Walking Tours uncover dozens of places and historical items that are never seen by the average visitor, all explained by Alan with his confident, fun-filled patter.

We have been up to this hillside village with family and friends frequently but much of Alan’s expose I had never known of when I did the tour.

Singlehandedly, Alan has raised €7,500 since he started his fundraising in March 2020.

Manuel Cortes listening to his radio, his only link to the outside world

Mijas pueblo was once the poorest in Spain with people starving, but with a massive tourist boom, the town eventually boasted several millionaires.

Midway around the village, Alan stops to enthral the group with a true story of Manuel Cortes. Cortes was a man who, during the Franco dictatorship in the 1930s, had a bounty on his head and was wanted by one of Franco’s execution squads.

As Mayor of Mijas, Cortes became caught up in civil war activities, trying to stop the killing of Republican sympathisers.

In 1939 he went into hiding for 30 years – spending most of his time in a cupboard under the stairs of his house, his location known only by his daughter and wife!

Cortes spent little time outside his under stairs hideaway, emerging just to eat and stretch his legs by walking barefooted around the village in the dead of night.

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

In 1969 an amnesty was offered to those STILL on the death list. Manuel walked to Malaga port (33km away) where the only other confidante – his first cousin (senior port manager) was waiting to aid his escape to France by boat.

But all set in his ever­-ready slippers that he crept around in so as not to be heard, he got the news that his cousin had been sadly killed by a falling crane on the very night before the sailing and the incredible trip was abandoned.

The enthralling story is in a book called ‘In Hiding’ and was recalled in a film.

Good luck England… and can Elaine and I wish family and friends a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a peaceful 2023.