He described how as a student he became stranded in the northern Spanish city after his bicycle failed to arrive on the same train as him, making his onward trip to a budget campsite impossible.
But on sharing his plight with a stranger in the bar he was offered a place to stay with a Spanish family who refused to take a payment for his board and lodging.
“It took five days for the bike to arrive. I spent all those days staying and eating with them as family without them letting me pay for anything,” recalled the ambassador, who arrived at the Madrid posting in August.
“How many countries would have welcomed a stranger like that?” Elliott asked in a video he posted on his twitter account on Tuesday.
Hugh Elliott posted a clip on Twitter recounting the story and asked for help to find Lourdes Arnáiz.
He asked for help to track down the woman who had shown such warm hospitality, whose name he remembered was Lourdes Arnáiz.
He asked the twittersphere for help to track her down after all these years so that he could properly thank her and her family all these years later.
On Friday evening he posted a new video with the update that his quest for news of Lourdes had been successful thanks to the huge response –
He said the reaction to his first video had been “totally unexpected, overwhelming and very affectionate”
“Thanks to your support, I now have news of her, but this is the sad part,” he said, visibly emotional. “I’m very sorry to have to say that Lourdes passed away at the age of 35 from Multiple Sclerosis. I had hoped for another outcome, but alas, it isn’t so.”
Elliott said he had spoken to Lourdes’ brother, Alfonso, whom he also knew all those years ago and who lives in Burgos with his family and the pair had resumed their friendship and would meet soon.
But in the meantime the ambassador urged those who had been touched by the story to donate something to associations dedicated to helping those sufferers of multiple sclerosis, either as volunteers or through a donation.
“if this story has touched you, and I have to say that I have cried more than in a little, there's something that you can do.”
He pointed out that there were several organisations in Burgos dedicated to helping those with the disease, as well in Santiago, the city he was headed for in 1984 as well as in Salamanca, where he later worked as a young teacher. There is also a national organisation, he said.
“Each one of us can contribute our ‘grain of sand’ with our time as a volunteer or with a donation. Thanks for your support and the interest that you have shown in this story and thanks so much for all your endearing messages,” he said.
The ambassador then tweeted a list of organisations in the places he mentioned that support multiple sclerosis suffers.
Los enlaces para ayudar en la lucha contra la esclerosis múltiple:
En toda ??@aedemesclerosis
Burgos https://t.co/KsZffo2qHL y https://t.co/YiYgnlMaZW
Santiago @difusionACEM @fegadem
Muchas gracias a todos
— Hugh Elliott (@HughElliottUK) December 7, 2019