Remembering Bill

Remembering Bill

At a time when death from Covid-19 is all around us, it is inevitable that we think back to other deaths which came out of the blue and moved us deeply. Also the acts of kindness and generosity displayed by both local people and organisations to support those left behind.

Paul Whitelock recalls the sudden death 11 years ago of his friend and neighbour Bill.

24 January 2021

We’d had dinner together the night before, Bill, his wife Jill, Rita and I. What a shock it was to be roused in the early hours to find that Bill had passed away in his sleep. Despite valiant efforts by former nurse Rita to revive Bill, it was too late. The paramedics, who arrived shortly with their sophisticated machinery, were also unable to bring him back to life. Bill had left us.

7 December 2009


The village of Montejaque is mourning the sudden death last month of William La Pêche, an English resident of the tiny pueblo blanco in the Serranía de Ronda.

Bill, as he was known to his many friends, had lived in the village for the last six years with his wife, Jill.  Born in Leek, Staffordshire, in February 1949, Bill and Jill had found their dream project in a finca in Yunquera in the Sierra de las Nieves, where they produced quality olive oil from their 600 trees, and grew oranges, almonds, avocados and other produce.

A short ceremony was held at the cemetery in Montejaque, before Bill’s body was inserted into a nicho (niche), donated by the local council.  Among the mourners were local Spanish neighbours, as well as friends from five other countries.

8 December 2009

Locals come up trumps after sudden death of British man

At a time when it is fashionable in some sections of the English Press in Spain to ‘knock’ or ‘mock’ the Spanish and their country, it is encouraging to hear a genuine good news story.  Paul Whitelock reports on many acts of kindness shown following the sudden death of an English friend in Montejaque last month.

We couldn’t believe it!  Our friend Bill, although turned 60, yet the fittest man hereabouts, had died in his sleep of a heart attack. It rocked the local community.  The outpouring of grief and support from Spanish locals as well as British immigrants was remarkable.

Apart from many acts of kindness by Spanish neighbours, for example offers of meals for Bill’s widow, Jill, in the immediate aftermath of his passing, the support of Montejaque Town Hall was unprecedented.  Not only did they put themselves and the village services at Jill’s disposal, they didn’t charge her a céntimo.   They donated a nicho in the village cemetery and provided all their funeral facilities free-of-charge.

The funeral parlour in nearby Ronda also prepared the body and provided a coffin and agreed to waive their charges.

The support of Bill’s friends and relatives has also been excellent.  Despite the short time between death and burial here, 24 hours, several managed to fly out from the UK in time, to join the several dozen mourners of six nationalities, who live in the Serranía de Ronda.

British neighbours have also helped Jill immensely by providing practical, as well as emotional support since the death two weeks ago.  They are currently contributing donations towards a marble lápida, or headstone, for the niche, so that there will be a permanent memorial to a man who enriched the lives of so many in our quiet village.

Paul Whitelock

About Paul Whitelock

Paul Whitelock is a retired former languages teacher, school inspector and translator, who emigrated to the Serranía de Ronda in 2008, where he lives with his second wife, Rita. He spends his time between Montejaque and Ronda doing DIY, gardening and writing.