The Mouse that Roared

 

This story appears in the January edition of Tomorrow Algarve magazine

 

It has been described as “The Mouse That Roared” because such a small organisation has inspired such large charitable works.

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Presentation to Bombeiros

The tiny residents’ association called AMOVATE in the west coast community of Vale da Telha, outside Aljezur, has just 126 fully paid-up members at the present time.

But over recent years it has punched well above its weight in its appointed designation as a non-profit-making charitable organisation providing facilities, services and events for the people living there.

Formed around 30 years ago with a largely Portuguese committee and membership AMOVATE is the Associação Dos Moradores e Amigos do Vale Da Tel, or the Association of Residents and Friends of Vale da Telha, available for people of all nationalities who have links to the area.

It was in Vale da Telha that we believe AFPOP held its first meeting almost 30 years ago, in a villa close to the Pines Roundabout, reflecting the community’s keen interest in serving the local expat community.

AMOVATE was also formed around that time largely to work with the local Portuguese community. But it has now morphed into an organisation that exists to serve ALL of the area’s people, Portuguese and expats of all nationalities alike in Vale da Telha, Aljezur, Espartel, Arrifana, Paisegem Oceano, Vales and the surrounding districts.

The driving motivation behind the association is to instigate social events and to raise money for deserving causes.

Its biggest project to date, which drew international attention through newspapers and TV, was to help organise the donation of €50,000 worth of fire fighting and rescue equipment from the UK to the Aljezur bombeiros.

Some of the E

Some of the Equipment presented to the Bombeiros

Aljezur Fire Chief, Mario Costa, declared as he and his men unpacked the huge shipment from UK Fire Services Charity Operation Florian: “This is going to save lives.

“People who would have died in accidents and fires will live because we now have this equipment with us as we deal with life-threatening emergencies.

“If we had to buy all of this equipment—and it goes without saying that this is something we are not really in a position to do, financially—it would cost somewhere in the region of €50,000”.

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Presentation of the Defibrillators

The bombeiros were also beneficiaries of another fund-raising drive by Amovate and member Dr David Quinton, a retired surgeon, which raised €4,500 in less than a month to buy two defibrillators and an item of training equipment from the UK.

Amovate also raised €1,000 from various fund-raising events after member Cath Baker suggested the organisation’s next charity project should be aimed at buying wheelchairs for the Orthodpaedic Unit at Portimao Hospital.

The end result was that nine wheelchairs—standard, extra wide and commodes—and other pieces of equipment were presented to the hospital, which led Orthopaedic Unit Director and Surgeon Dr Alvaro Botelho to praise Amovate and the people of the Vale da Telha area.1-wheelchair-presentation-portimao-hospital-march-15-2011-13-2

He said: “It is difficult to put into words how much we not only appreciate, but rely on, the wonderful generosity of people like those who joined so enthusiastically in the fund-raising for these wheelchairs.

“Because of their generosity, we have received a wonderful gift that will help in a huge way both the patients of the orthopaedic ward and the professionals who take care of them”.

Amovate has also supported Cath’s Charity Bar Walks in 2015 and 2016, the first of which resulted in the presenation of a further 26 wheelchairs and equipment to Portimao Hospital.

The second walk provided the local St Vincent de Paul Society with an electric bed, specially shipped in from the UK, to be be used by a local boy suffering from a degenerative disease.

The Society also received eight blankets plus schoolbooks, pens, crayons etc., all to be distributed to needy children in the Aljezur area, plus €400 for another local child who had required urgent dental treatment, with his family struggling to pay.

And on top of all that, a wide range of educational, therapeutic and sensory toys, all designed with special needs children in mind, was presented to the Aljezur School.

Presentation to Madrugada

Presentation to Madrugada

Amovate has also paid for a ripple bed for the Madrugada Charity appeal to assist people with life-threatening illnesses, part of a total of €2,596 presented to Madrugada Director Alison Blair.

She said: “I am overwhelmed and so moved. I wasn’t even aware this community was here, just half an hour from our advice centre and shop in Praia da Luz until we heard of your donation.

“This comparatively small number of residents has shown the warm heart of its community by managing to raise such a large sum. This will enable us not only to buy the ripple bed which we need so badly, but also to prioritise other important projects.”

One of Amovate’s Family Fun Days provided the funds to furnish a wet room for a Burgau toddler suffering from cerebral palsy.

A Christmas charity event raised €700 to provide local needy children with toys for Christmas and to the St Vincent de Paul society for distribution amongst the area’s poorer families. Amovate also donated bedding and blankets to needy families, and bought the St Vincent de Paul Society a new washing machine for use by a local family struggling financially and chosen by the Society.

Laptop Presenation

Laptop Presenation

Amovate, and the Vale da Telha Golf Society also presented a much-needed state-of-the-art laptop to the CMR Sul Rehabilitation Centre São Brás de Alportel which had successfully treated two Vale da Telha residents during their recovery from serious illness.

Smaller donations have included €250 to the AEZA Dog & Cat Charity towards a fencing project that enables dogs to have a safe area to run and play, and more recently the donation of supplies like water, food, towels, socks etc., to Aljezur Bombeiros whilst they were fighting the fires in Monchique during September.

But Amovate also works in the local community on a daily basis. It is partnered with the Vale da Telha Golf Society, has arranged for Proof of life verification for expats in receipt of the UK state pension, and helped to form a British Legion west coast branch.

Amovate also stages regular events in local restaurants and bars to help support businesses in the area; a Summer Solstice evening at a cliff top restaurant, an Oktoberfest, a Beatles tribute evening (complete with an impressive Cavern stage), a Masterchef competition and Christmas parties.

Amovate also appointed one member, a former national newspaper journalist in England, as their Press and Public Relations Officer with the brief to raise the profile of Aljezur and the west coast.

This is being done by placing positive, upbeat stories about the area in both Portuguese and English newspapers and magazines.

Amovate is currently working with the Monte Clerigo Beach Action Group to support their campaign aimed at saving this lovely little beachside community from the bulldozer.

And it is also a link between the community and the local Camara, as committee members hold regular meetings with the President and/or his staff to raise any relevant issues.

Amovate is at the hub of the community from its HQ, a former schoolhouse which now houses a range of activities and is also home to the local Petanque club which competes right across the Algarve.

The Old School House has plenty going on. Regular classes include keep fit, dance instruction, yoga, pilates, line dancing and capoeira. Amovate also has a tennis club, using the three Amovate-administered courts on the road heading towards Monte Clerigo, which are also available for pre-booked public use to help the charity fund.

More recently the building has benefitted from the provision of well-equipped gymnasium facilities including treadmills, exercise bikes, cross-trainers, a multi-gym, rowing machine and free weights.

And the Old School House is the starting point for the walking group, setting off for walks of varying distances, according to your requirements. There is also a reasonably well-stocked library.

And of course Amovate also holds the popular west coast car boot sale on the first Sunday of each month.

Amovate is keen on growing even bigger, believing that the more members it has the more it can achieve for the people living on the west coast.

Anyone wishing to join and become part of this active organisation which exists solely for the benefit of the people in the area can find all of the information they require—and some articles and photographs which they might find of interest—on its website, including details of how to join.

Amovate Membership (at just €10 per person each year) is due for renewal now, so please be sure to renew soon.  Or if you are not already a Member, please consider joining so that Amovate can continue to raise funds for worthy charities.

go to:

www.amovate.com

 

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