Former Huddersfield man Brian Hayhurst introduces us to a couple who quit Huddersfield for an exciting new life in the sun.
DYNAMIC Huddersfield-born couple Brad and Di decided to uproot almost 25 years ago and move in southern Spain – and they’ve never regretted it for one moment.
Bradley Cobb and Diana Rippingham lived in Newsome and worked in the NHS – Brad as a Huddersfield Royal Infirmary’s Path Lab and Di was a community nursing sister.
After frequently visiting the Costa del Sol since 1983 at least three times a year, they fell in love with the lifestyle and people out here. Enjoying probably the best climate in Europe and steadily increasing their number of friends and contacts, it was soon to be an easy choice for a move.
With their job satisfaction in the NHS at an all-time low and an offer for Brad to run a private HIV testing lab in Benalmadena, they sold up and were soon heading for Portsmouth with all their worldly possessions, including a second hand microscope bought from the NHS.
Di travelled in an old 2CV banger, Brad on his 350 Yamaha – a bike he did over 100km a day on.
They departed England’s shores in a force five gale and the ferry was blown against the harbour wall so they had to wait 24 hours for another boat. Great start!
The sun was high in the sky when they reached the notorious N340 coast road south of Barcelona in Spain.
In the 1980s it was listed as the most dangerous in Europe and driving on it was similar to the first lap in the Monaco F1, but not now – it is well controlled. Brad and Di were swiftly moving to their new life in Spain.
At first they stayed with a Spanish family who spoke not a word of English.
This was a wake up call and therefore after much practice, struggling with mountains of red tape, paperwork and queues in front of government officials, they finally mastered the lingo and both have been fluent for many years.
Brad said: “It pays off when you’re purchasing something or haggling. Plus you get instant respect for taking the trouble to learn their language. After all, we are immigrants in their country even though I class Spain as my first love now over the UK.”
Di is probably the bubbliest, most outgoing person my wife Elaine and I have met here on the coast. Her outgoing personality entwined with her nursing skills enabled her to set up in business with a private nursing agency just 2km from the famous ‘rich set, playboy resort’ of Puerto Banus.
She soon built up an impressive portfolio of clients, including a number of well-known stars who have properties there. Understandably, no amount of persuasion would get her to divulge names or any other information
But away from agency work they both have met or mingled with people like Sean Connery, Bruce Forsyth, Babs Windsor, Jimmy Tarbuck and lots of rock musicians.
After a while at the Benalmadena lab, Brad also decided to start up a business utilising one of his other skills, photography.
He is now a well respected professional, much sought after by clients in the travel industry or the property market.
They have a lovely home in the middle of Golf Valley, 1km inland from the Med.
Although they did not realise it at the time, this is a choice location and the property has probably quadrupled in value and the entire area, including Marbella, is enjoying signs of recovery and people here feel that values will rocket further when full recovery kicks in.
When they arrived, salubrious Marbella was struggling due to lack of investment until the infamous mayor at that time overspent taxpayers’ money trying to improve the town’s image and attempting to remove criminal elements.
He was eventually convicted of misusing public funds.
Some feel he did a good job as house prices in the late 1990s went through the roof and holidaymakers began returning to enjoy a cleaner, safer town.
Di said: “All over this part of the coast new businesses are springing up and many now feel the worst is over.”
Asked about advice for others who are contemplating a move to Spain, both Brad and Di say: “Don’t come unless you are willing to integrate, share cultures and don’t complain if something does not taste quite like it did back home.
“If you make the effort you will never want to leave this beautiful country.”
They regularly zoom into the rugged hills only 10km behind the coast on their well-tuned red Ducati to enjoy its wildlife that includes eagles, vultures and deer.
Brad said: “We pity those on the beach paying through the nose for poor food and service and who never venture further than the bar or golf club.
“There is much to see and experience, but we also like a fairly quiet life and enjoy dinner parties at home, the occasional happy hour or lounging round the pool when we have the time.”
After 29 years together Brad and Di recently decided to get married.
They had a civil ceremony in nearby Gibraltar and later went to Los Angeles and honeymooned at Lake Tahoe in Nevada.
But they will never leave Spain for a life anywhere else.
They say: “We would leave kicking and screaming if we had to, but not return to the UK.
“We’d head for another Hispanic country, maybe South America, but we would look at California as a second choice.”