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Daniel Pruce

British Ambassador to the Philippines and to Palau

Part of UK in Spain

10th February 2014 Madrid, Spain

Diplomacy in the community

The Embassy moved into the Torre Espacio, in the North of Madrid, a few years ago. One of the benefits of moving here was to find ourselves as neighbours to La Paz Hospital – one of the best public sector hospitals in Spain.

Over the years we have got to know the hospital well. Since 2011, a member of the Embassy UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Team, Cristina Monteiro, has been arranging for groups of children who are patients in the hospital, and their families, to come into the Embassy every fortnight to see our amazing views – and to get a break from their often long-term stays in the hospital. We are on the 41st floor of the Torre so you can see for miles on a clear day.

Cristina’s enthusiasm for this has spread throughout the Embassy. With the help of her colleagues she has been able to broaden our relationship with the hospital. Last year we were proud to be able to contribute to the construction of the roof top children’s garden, which opened last year – that’s why we’re standing under a giant mushroom in the picture!

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We’ve also established a tradition of a Christmas Party for the children from the hospital. And they designed the Embassy Christmas Card for 2013.

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I am sure our collaboration with La Paz will continue. First and foremost it is about doing something to help the children who are patients, and their families, as they are going through what must be difficult and worrying times.

And we also get a lot out of the relationship ourselves. It is a joy to see the children’s reactions to the views when they visit us And we all get a buzz from the excitement at the Christmas Party. It is also great for us as an Embassy to work together on something very different to what we normally do.

Our closer relationship has opened up new areas of practical collaboration between us. Senior members of La Paz accompanied a UKTI member of staff to the Medica healthcare trade fair in Düsseldorf. And La Paz are an important source of advice to help better understand the Spanish healthcare system in general.

I’ve said before that diplomacy is all about connections and conversations. Our relationship with La Paz Hospital is another kind of connection which is precious to us. It is an important two-way relationship which brings benefits to everyone involved. It has also added depth to our relationship with the management of the Torre Espacio, who help enormously with the regular visits and other fundraising events.

And one unexpected bonus: the La Paz team have taught us a thing or two about dancing! Check out their video on Youtube!