Talk about AVISA at the University of Cádiz - April 2024

Once more the president of AVISA has given a talk to the students of Máster de Comunicación Internacional at Cádiz Unoversity.  The students learnt about how exactly we carry out our work as interpreters in the hospital and health centres both in person and by phone. After the talk and subsequent questions the sudents were able to practice their skills as interpreters in role plays based on everydy situations that occur in the hospital. In the photo below: the lecturer Carmen Fernández Martín, her students, the president of AVISA and his wife, Sheila, who played the parts of different foreign patients.





In Nerja on Thursday June 29 the AVISA volunteers were able to meet up in a relaxed fashion for the first time since the pandemic.


The reason for our get together was not only to meet those interpreters who have joined us recently, but also to say goodbye to two colleagues and remember one who we sadly lost recently.


Iraima has been a volunteer in Nerja for seven years, attending to the needs of people there conscientiously and with dedication. We wish her every success with the new business she has started in Nerja.


Eufemia, a founder member of AVISA and our first secretary, has dedicated 18 years of her retirement to helping thousands of people both with love and professionalism in both Nerja and the hospital.  She continues to live in Nerja, where she can now enjoy this, her second retirement.


Anthony, Our first president, sadly left us in April this year and we wanted to pay tribute to him in the presence of his wife, Sheilah. There are details about Anthony in an earlier post, below -  suffice to say here that he was a very well-known, well-respected and much-loved colleague, who dedicated 18 years of his life to helping people in Nerja and at the hospital. 


Daniel speaks about his good friend and compatriot, Anthony, to Sheilah (left), Eufemia (centre) and Iraima (right).




ANTHONY SHEARMAN - the first president of AVISA

It  is with great sadness that we announce the death, at the age of 87, of Anthony Shearman, the first president of the association of volunteer interpreters, AVISA.

He died at home on Good Friday afternoon, following a fall.

Anthony had all the hallmarks of a typical English gentleman but was actually born and raised in Chile and for many years worked in several different countries before retiring to Nerja.

Together with others, Anthony founded the association AVISA some 18 years ago, when he was working as a volunteer in the Nerja health centre. Since then he worked together with his wife Sheilah two days a week in Nerja and another at the Axarquia hospital. As well as this commitment, he regularly covered for absent colleagues. He was a member of the association’s committee and coordinated the work of the interpreters in Nerja.

Anthony’s departure will leave a great void in the lives of many people: so many years dedicated to helping others mean that he was widely known and enormously respected. He worked with efficiency, dignity, empathy and above all a caring attitude. He will always be remembered with great affection by all the staff in the health service, the patients and their families, and his colleagues.

Our thoughts are with his family.  Rest in peace, Anthony, a dear and much-loved colleague.



Joan Gilford - a most loved and respected colleague.

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our colleague Joan Gilford. 
Joan's dedicatrion and professionalism was an example to all. She served as a volunteer interpreter for eleven years and was the secretary of the association AVISA for eight. She will always be remembered for her kind disposition, empathy and her eternal smile.
She was well´known in Canillas de Albaida, where she lived and in the area around Competa as the "go´to person" whenever anyone needed help with the Spanish language and bureaucracy.
She will be sadly missed by all who knew her.


We have received the following information from Richard Weale at the Red Cross (Cruz Roja) in Velez´Malaga regarding the services that are currently available:
  1. The loan of physical aids such as wheelchairs, crutches, walking frames, walking sticks and 'hospital' beds.  There is no charge for the loan of these items and, apart from the beds, they are normally 'in-stock' and available at relatively short notice. 
  2. Help, i.e. a lift, to attend important appointments such as medical check-ups for people without access to a car or public transport.  This can include specially adapted vehicles for wheelchair users. 
  3. The supply and installation of an alarm to summon help in an emergency by means of a wrist/pendant worn button in the home or a mobile phone App.  There is a charge for this service as the Red Cross has its own call centre and employs the staff. 

I would be grateful if you could update your members and remind them that the Red Cross may be able to help them or a friend or neighbour and that, for further information, they should contact me via email at


Statistics for 2019

During 2019 our volunteer interpreters have carried out a total of 14,565 jobs compared to 13,480 the previous year. 12,101 of these were in the hospital  (11,327 in 2018) and In the health centre in nerja, 2,462 (2,153 in 2018).  A job might consist simply of a phone call in a foreign language or translating between a patient or family member and the hospital staff. We work in all sections of the hospital at the request of the professionals and we are available from 8:30 to 14:30 on work days.

Donation from the Phoenix Club in Torre del Mar

Once again we give a big thank you to all the members of the Phoenix Club, especially to those who organised the collection of money for the generous donation.
This year the Phoenix Club has donated 800 euros to our association. The money will be spent on administrative costs - insurance, the website, etc. and also will conrtibute towards the travel expenses of our 35 volunteers at the Axarquia Hospital and the Health Centre in Nerja.

George Wilson - interpreter and legend

Some twenty year ago, (long before the days of AVISA) George Wilson arrived in A & E at the Comarcal Hospital with a broken ankle. On learning that he spoke Spanish, the staff immediately asked if he would like to help them communicate with the foreign patients. George lost no time in accepting the invitation and for the following 20 years he has been working with enthusiasm and empathy, ensuring that staff and patients are able to understand each other. Even when he was in hospital himself recovering from an operation on a broken arm, George continued to assist his fellow foreign patients. This year a third, more serious fracture, has curtailed his activities but we all hope to see him back working again soon. In recognition of his many years of dedication to helping others, the association AVISA presented George with an engraved momento.


A short video clip: VID-20191214-WA0007.mp4 (10,5 MB)  


Excursion to the Bodega y Viñedos de La Capuchina in October 2019


A group of interpreters enjoyed a visit to the Bodega and Vineyards of La Capuchina, near Mollina, Antequera. There Emilio gave a detailed explanation of the wine making process from the planting of the vines through to the bottling and marketing of the wine. He then gave us a masterclass in wine tasting when we were able to appreciate the subtleties of his excellent wines, accompanied by delicious food prepared and served by Susana and Mercedes.

We were allowed all the time we wanted to enjoy the delightful atmosphere of their marvellous farmhouse and gardens in the midst of the olive groves and vineyards. Finally we all bought supplies of wine and olive oil as souvenirs of an excellent day out. We can thoroughly recommend a visit to this delightful place. Many thanks to Anne Marie and Katrina for having organized everything so well and to our hosts for the day Emilio and Susana. More information here



Information in Spanish Insight Magazine about emergency health treatment

Here on page eight of the magazine you will find information about using the health service in an emergency. It applies to both tourists and residents.

Impressive Initiative by The Red Cross in Velez-Malaga

The Spanish Red Cross, based in Velez-Malaga, is extending its wide range of services to the English-speaking population of the Axarquia thanks to a team of suitably qualified volunteers that has been organised by Richard Weale. These services are exactly the type of thing that is required by many English-speaking residents so please pass on this news item to everyone that you know.

The Red Cross in Spain (La Cruz Roja Española) helps people in need and the work is carried out by volunteers, which now include English speakers.

Services available for foreign residents include:

  • Supplying basic necessities such as food, clothing and shoes to people in an extremely vulnerable situation.
  • The provision of an emergency (SOS) call system via a landline or a mobile phone App and a Red Cross Call Centre.
  • The loan of mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, walking sticks and crutches. 
  • Activities for older people including informative talks, memory stimulation, discussions and cultural events.
  • Providing transport and accompanying people to appointments e.g. a medical centre or hospital.  
  • Supporting people in hospital who are alone or without close friends or family or the spouse/partner of someone who is in hospital.
  • Visiting people in their own home who live alone or are unable to socialise or e.g. accompanying them for a walk to the local shops/café

For more information about the services available or about becoming a volunteer please email Richard on:- or call 952 50 03 21

The above information is contained in this poster, which you may wish to print and display:CRE inglés cartel-2019.docx (1521451)

AVISA at the University of Cadiz

In May 2019 The president of AVISA was invited to speak at the University of Cadiz to the class of students taking their master's degree in translation and Interpretation. The aim was to give them some insight into the practicalities of our work in the Spanish Health Service. The talk was well received and provoked some lively discussion. The session ended with the sudents taking part in a variety of role play situations, where they got a feel for the work by playing the part of hospital interpreters. In this section the president was ably assisted by his wife, Sheila, who gave lively and amusing representations of English-speaking patients - much to the entertainment of those present.  We look forward to repeating the experience next year and wish all the students the best of luck with their future careers.


For the fourth year running, Pauline has organised a fund raising event for our benefit. This year she and her helpers have raised the staggering amount of 2635 euros for our association. The event, held in Nerja on January 12, was a total success - good food, brilliant entertainment and excellent company. Everyone clearly had a fantastic time. Many thanks to Pauline for her efforts on behalf of all the interpreters, as well as all the people who benefit from our voluntary service. Thanks also to all her helpers, the entertainers and all those who attended the event.
Tricia, Elizabeth and Anne Marie



Once again Anthony, who works both at the hospital and in Nerja, has compiled the statistics of the work we do during the year based on the daily record that we keep and they show an increase of nearly a thousand "jobs" accomplished in the hospital compared with the previous year. 

During 2018 we helped people on 11,327 occasions in the hospital (10,480 in 2017). Sometimes a "job" can consist of a short phone call to a patient, while on other occasions it may involve very much more time, where a patient or family member requires a lot of support in their dealings with hospital staff.

55% of our work was in English and 28% in German. The remainder is made up of other languages: French, Dutch, Italian, etc.

The volunteer interpreters also work in the health Centre in Nerja five days a week and there they carried out 2,153 "jobs" during the year. In Nerja the percentage of English used was 70%

Radio Interview

On the link above you can hear the interview with the president of AVISA carried out by Howard Brereton on TALK RADIO EUROPE. 
The interviw starts at minute 24:00 and lasts 15 minutes and it gives an insight into the work of the interpreters. 

Sad News

It is hard to come to terms with the fact that our much-loved colleague, Gianpietro Zampolli is no longer with us. He passed away on June 20 in the same hospital where he worked for 25 years as an interpreter of German and Italian. Gianpietro was a big man with a big heart: he carried out his duties efficiently, with empathy and always with good humour, smoothing the path of communication between patients, their families and the hospital staff. He was well known and liked by everyone who knew him - just about everyone in the hospital. He will be sadly and sorely missed by all, especially his fellow interpreters.

Spanish Television made a short film of us working at the hospital. 


Isabel Diaz from the press agency EFE made an interesting video report about AVISA

El presidente de la asociación de voluntarios Avisa, Christopher Cluderay (d), ha explicado a Efe que realizan sus labores de traducción en el Área Sanitaria Este de Málaga-Axarquía

El presidente de la asociación de voluntarios Avisa, Christopher Cluderay (d), ha explicado a Efe que realizan sus labores de traducción en el Área Sanitaria Este de Málaga-Axarquía "desde hace 20 años y con la asociación fundada desde hace 10, con un equipo de treinta intérpretes" para abarcar las lenguas de los extranjeros que requieren de sus servicios. EFE


New system in the A and E department of the Comarcal Hospital

This new system means that when you register at the admissions desk in A and E, you will be given a number (letter, number, letter) and an identification bracelet. This number is displayed on the various screens in the waiting areas to inform you of when and where you need to go. The aim is to achieve a better control of who goes where and when, and to provide greater privacy for the individual. It also reduces the numer of announcements made over the PA system. The director of the department, Coral Suero, explains (in Spanish) the new system here:



Once again Pauline has organised a fund raising event among the residents of Nerja on behalf of AVISA, (the association of voluntary health interpreters in the Axarquia). The event was a great success, with excellnte live music and food. We all had an absolutely brilliant time. Pauline (and her team of helpers) raised an amazing amount of 1,890 euros. This money will be used to cover our administrative costs and to make a contribution to the travel expenses of all the 32 voluntary interpreters. Once again we express our thanks to Pauline and her team for helping to support a service which many foreigners, both tourists and residents, are so grateful for.

Joan (Juana) won first prize in the raffle.




Chris, Sheilah, Eufemia y Anthony at the AVISA stand


The AVISA lunch december 2016

The wednesday team.

Residents' day in Nerja.

Sunday April 17 2016 - Anthony, Tricia and Sheilah man the AVISA stand in Nerja where they inform people about our work at both the health centre in Nerja and the hospital.

Donation from Pauline Kennedy (Nerja) 2016

Donación de Pauline Kennedy de Nerja 2016

This year Pauline has organised yet another event with live music so as to raise funds for AVISA. Last year she donated a generouse amount but this year she has really surpassed herself - raising a total of 2,100 euros! Some 180 people attended - most of them British, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the live performances by The Jersey Boys and the delightful Jordana. This is the poster for the event:  Pauline.pdf (877,7 kB)

Here we would like to repeat our most sincere thanks to Pauline and her team of helpers who worked so hard to achieve such a generous donation.


As can be seen in the photos below, several interpreters were in attendance.



As well as presenting Pauline with some beautiful orchids on behalf of AVISA, we took the opportunity to Present Tricia with a pretty metalic sculpture of a biznaga - the emblematic flower of Malaga - in recognition of the 18 years she has dedicated to helping others both in the health centre in Nerja and in the hospital. This is a truly great commitment and she assures us that it is one that she aims to continue for some time to come.


Carmen Lundberg - a dedicated volunteer interpreter (1938 - 2013)

Carmen was born in 1938 in Mexico City. She studied with a scholarship at a college in USA and worked in the travel industry. In 1960 she met her future husband, Peter, while travelling on the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth. In December they got married and moved to Denmark, where she learned to speak Danish. As well as bringing up her son and two daughters, Carmen worked at the Mexican embassy in Copenhagen and later for IBM in the library and information department. She loved working with computers, finding information and being a part of the computer revolution at that time. She had a lot of energy and 3 times a week she gave evening classes in Spanish. As Peter was a pilot with SAS, they had the opportunity to travel widely, especially to her native Mexico. When they retired they decided to move to Nerja in Spain where they bought a big house so that the family could always come and visit. After only 2 years in Spain Peter died in 2005 but Carmen decided to stay in Spain and make a new start. She began working as a voluntary interpreter at the ambulatorio in Nerja and at the hospital in Vélez-Málaga, where she helped a lot of people and made a lot of friends! Unfortunately she became very ill in 2013 and passed away in June. She is greatly missed by her many friends in and out of the volunteers of AVISA. Many ex patients frequently ask after her and we have to pass on the sad news of her demise.




Annual General Meeting and Lunch 2015


Asamblea General y Comida 2015


Waiting for the meeting to start

Manolo giving some technical advice

Claudia spoke to us about the Convenio (agreement)

Manolo gave an informative talk about health care for foreigners (EHIC etc.)

After 23 years working as a volunteer interpreter, Gianpietro receives well-deserved recognition.

Gianpietro said that never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined receiving this.

Gianpietro surrounded by his colleagues

Enjoying the annual meal - Barbara & Joan with Chris Lane's wife

Gianpietro, Fulvio & Chris

Con ganas de comer - Antonio, Vreni, Karen, su marido, Gregorio, Chris, Eufemia y Sunty

Juan, Josefina & Irene

Michelle, her husband & George

Michelle, Sunty, Katrina & Vreni - the Wednesday team




Signing of the agreement between Avisa and the district health authority:

Área de Gestión Sanitaria Este de Málaga – Axarquía

The agreement has finally been signed. It has involved work from a lot of people: the president, Chris; the former president, Antonio; Mª Teresa and Pura, social workers; Claudia, the head of customer service and several people from the legal department of the Junta de Andalucía. Essentially this is an agreement between AVISA and the district health authority of the Axarquía, which specifies what we do and how we do it, as well as the rights and responsibilities of the association of interpreters and the health authority. As the hospital director said on the day of the signing, "This formalises on paper what has been happening in practice for many years". In this way, the authority recognises officially the value that they place on the work done by all the interpreters in the hospital and in the health centre in Nerja.
In the photos are Sheilah Shearman, Claudia Caravaca, José Pinazo and Chris Cluderay at the signing of the agreement.




No para de bailar

No para de bailar

Josefina (Fina) Rey González trabaja en el hospital los jueves desde hace varios años  y lleva año y medio estudiando y practicando el baile flamenco en la Academia de Flamenco Ana Belén en Vélez-Málaga. Junto con su grupo que consiste en 7 españolas y una alemana, practica dos veces a la semana - alegrías, rumba, fandango, tanguillo y sevillanas. Han actuado en el teatro del Carmen además de en muchas ferias locales por toda la Axarquía.


An interpreter with good connetions

Elizabeth, who has worked at the hospital on  Thursdays since the beginning of 2014, has become the "First Lady" of the municipality of Alcaucín; although she insists that she is still the same old person she has always been, working on her vegetable patch and riding around on her bicycle.

Elixabeth's husband, Mario Blanke, is now the Mayor of Alcaucín. After four years as the councillor responsible for town planning, Mario stood for mayor, in the elections of May 2015, under the banner of the new party Ciudadanos,  and is now in post in coalition with the PSOE party.

In the photo we see Elizabeth on the day of the investiture, standing proudly with her husband and two children.



More than just an interpreter

As well as working on Fridays as a voluntary interpreter at the hospital, Gregorio Ubico gives up spare time to helping needy families in Nerja with the organisation Nerja Solidaria. This group has ten volunteer workers as well as some 60 others who make a regular financial contribution. They have been working since December 2014, distributing food and during just the first two weeks helped 50 families. They have food collection bboxes in the local supermarkets, where people can donate goods and they have organised sporting and leisure events, where the "price of entry" was at least a kilo of non-perishable goods. Nerja Solidaria also receives regular amounts of food and drink from Bancosol, the Malaga food bank.  ( ).





On December 4 2014 we had our annual general meeting.

Firt we had the opportunity to meet the director of the hospital and of the Axarquia area, José Pinazo Luque, who gave a short talk in which he recognised and gave thanks for our work.

Antonio Ruiz Barranco tendered his resignation as President of AVISA, after five years in the post. He will continue to work as a volunteer interpreter.

Without doubt, Antonio has made a great contribution to our association during his presidency, not only in the day to day running - with all the effort and commitment that implies -  but also in the consolidation of AVISA as an integral part of the hospital.

As a token of our appreciation for all that he has done and of our high regard for him on a personal level, we presented him with the gift shown below.


After voting in the new committe - few changes - with Chris Cluderay taking over the post of president, Fulvio Villano that of vice-president and Joan Gilford that of secretary; we met at the Escuela de hostelería at the Palacio del Marqués. where we all enjoyed a splendid meal in even better company and so celebrated yet another year in the history of our association.