A corner of Spain in the heart of Shropshire

PUBLISHED: 13:40 20 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:04 20 February 2013

A corner of Spain in the heart of Shropshire

A corner of Spain in the heart of Shropshire

There's a little corner of Spain in the heart of the county, says Debbie Graham

Y viva Shropshire

Theres a little corner of Spain in the heart of the county, says Debbie Graham. Pictures by john snowdon

What Shrewsbury needed, decided Sheila Knights and some friends one night, was a Spanish corner. Somewhere where people could come and immerse themselves in all things Spanish.

That was nine years ago and El Rincn Espaol, which translates as the Spanish Corner, has thrived ever since. It now has around 100 members and attracts people from all parts of the county, aged between 30 and 70 years old.

It has become what we hoped it would be a focal point for anyone with an interest in the Spanish language and Hispanic culture, says Sheila.
And this can be anyone, from those with a Spanish holiday home to those studying Spanish at university and even some bona-fide Spaniards. Basically, anyone with an affinity to Spain or Latin America is welcome.

For here members can absorb themselves with the culture and return to Spain for an evening. And as you would expect with a culture famed for its foods, wines, fiestas and carnivals, tapas are often on the menu and having fun is important with guests being greeted by a glass of wine.

Sheilas love of all things Hispanic started when she worked for Sandeman Sherry in Jerez de la Frontera, Southern Spain, and, had the chance then to really get to know the people and the culture.

Regular Jean Livingstone says: It is well worth the journey from Market Drayton as the events are always interesting. The organiser make us so welcome, it is good to meet with so many people for whom Spanish is their native language and we have delicious tapas at the end."

Events are held every couple of months and include flamenco dancing displays, wine tasting and watching Spanish contemporary cinema.
Our vision has remained the same to attract people with a common interest and to make it an instructive and pleasurable evening, says Sheila. All are in Spanish and afterwards we always offer something in the way of food, usually various tapas, so that people can stay on and chat. The idea is for people to converse in Spanish wherever possible, though sometimes some have to resort to English.

One of my favourite events and one that I am looking forward to is Fiesta Navidena in November, in the run-up to Christmas , when we have festive Spanish food and music and dancing demonstrations, says Peter McNally from Baschurch.

And the group is not resting on its laurels just yet despite Sheila saying it has exceeded all her expectations. It has recently formed a link with the Spanish Department at Shrewsbury School where the group can benefit from a well-equipped school, whilst students from the school can widen their experience by participation in El Rincns activities, she says. Film showings in May and September will be held in the Moser Library at Shrewsbury School with the November Fiesta at The Gateway on Chester Street.

We should like to be able to organise visits occasionally to the Instituto Cervantes (a centre dedicated to the study of Spanish and Hispanic culture) in Manchester.

But for now, while El Rincn Espaol thrives there will always be a corner of Spain in Shropshire.

For more information email Sheila Knights: knights.cound@tiscali.co.uk

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