The crowd enjoying the sun

“Alternative” garden party celebrates BEM awarded to Christopher Wright

Open any expat-orientated publication in the Algarve and, inevitably, the name Chris Wright will jump out at you.

Chris has been a voluntary contributor on sporting events for more than a decade and it is this tireless, energy-packed attitude that has led to his receiving the BEM (British Empire Medal) from Her Majesty the Queen in the New Year’s Honours for 2019. The actual award takes place later this summer, but Chris and wife Christine start their celebrations with a Buckingham Palace Garden Party later this month.

To honour this, one of Chris’s sponsors for the award, Mark Fox (“Foxy” of Leeds Rhinos Rugby League fame), and his wife Tanya decided to open the doors of their newly-developed Turismo Rural Casa Raposa, in Santo Estêvão, for an “Alternative” Garden Party here in the Algarve.

Over 100 people of numerous nationalities attended the event magnificently coordinated by Tanya. The weather was superb, the food divine and several speakers congratulated Chris on his achievement.

Ex-footballer, now walking footballer, Brian Kilcline (Captain of Coventry when they won the FA cup in 1987) spoke, as did local Olhanense connections Miguel Saial (SCO Fans Website Editor) and José Daniel, Vice President of Sporting Club Olhanense; everyone was glowing with praise for a person who has seriously devoted his life to fundraising, charity and the community.

Chris’s career with young people started when he became director of the Essex Boys’ Clubs, the first regional officer for SE England and subsequently National Assistant Director in the UK.

Then, upon his arrival in the Algarve, supposedly retired, he started a second career setting up the Olhanense Expat Supporters Club, introducing walking football to the area and reporting on sporting events.

He is a patron of the 24×7 Special Needs Holiday Trust, which fundraises to send people with special needs to a purpose-built centre in Moncarapacho.

He has contributed to, and raised funds for, Casa do Benfica (Tavira) and Olhanense youth football; he has aided various animal charities, cats being his favourites; he has activated support for local volunteer firefighters following forest fires in the area … one could go on.

“Fitness, fun and friendship” is Chris’s tag line. He has actively contributed to “the improved health, wellbeing, morale and social integration of many people of many ages in this country and through his tireless work provided a conduit between expats and the local community”.

An award well earned.


Walking Footballers, Oistein Lovoll, Johathan Syed and Andy Smith
Mark and Tanya Fox, Christine and Chris Wright
The crowd enjoying the sun
Footballer Brian Kilcline and Paul Shaw
Caroline Byrne, Christine and Chris Wright