We have lost a grande dame of journalism. Intelligent and elegant, she was equally concerned for her readers and for those in the news, considering them all as part of her family, and treating them always with care and respect.
I shall call her simply Mercedes because, the last time I wrote about her - in November, when she was presented with an award by the fashion industry - she asked me to do so.
She always told me that she became a journalist for love. It was love for her husband, Antonio Sánchez Gómez, that led her into the profession, and later, working alongside him, she came to love her profession intensely.
Mercedes was born in Palencia in 1920, and that is where the couple met. They married in 1940, and soon afterwards, moved to Barcelona, where Antonio worked as editor of newspaper La Prensa (The Press). One afternoon, when their son, Eduardo, was a toddler, they came up with the idea of launching their own magazine. Picture-led, it would be full of positive reporting and would celebrate all that is beautiful in life. And it would be called Hola!
When Mercedes said she became a journalist for love, she meant that she wanted always to be at Antonio's side, whether they were editing or overseeing the printing or the distribution. She wanted to share the joys, the excitements, the difficulties and challenges of their joint venture to be a special kind of journalist, one committed to kind, respectful reporting.
The pair's aim was to bring to the surface what they called "the froth of life" - the buoyant, the effervescent, the beautiful. Like the fizz in champagne, or rainbow soap bubbles. Not the things that weigh us down, but the ones that lift us up.
That was 75 years ago, and they brought so much pleasure, shared so many good times each week in the pages of Hola!. So many babies, love stories, weddings, houses, dresses and parties!
Mercedes had a heart of gold. Her personality was as elegant as her appearance, and she brought to her work the optimism and generosity that were her hallmarks. She was magnificent, and at the same time delicate in all that she did. When she committed herself to something, she gave herself completely.
She was a pioneer. A tireless worker, full of intelligence and courage, at a time when few women were able to make their mark professionally. Creating an admirable feminine style that was all her own, she led the way in reconciling work and home life, promoting equal opportunities and a modern approach, but with a light, natural touch. She never stopped to think that she was opening doors, broadening horizons. She just did it.
She was at the helm of Hola! from the 8 September 1944 until Sunday. She was so happy when she showed us the latest issue of her fashion special, with the great cover she'd chosen, and filled with gorgeous photoshoots. She'd produced that special four times a year for half a century, on top of her work on the weekly. She worked first alongside her husband, then alongside her son Eduardo, and finally alongside her grandchildren. And of course there was the Hola! team, whom she counted as family. Many of them were her relatives, and all were linked to her by strong bonds of affection.
She also counted as family the personalities who featured in the pages of Hola!, and every one of its readers. Her Hola! was for them. To keep them company, to entertain and comfort them. She'd have loved to send them gifts, sweets and flowers too...
We're going to miss her so much. But we will try to follow in her footsteps. To be, like her, "journalists for love". A love that carries us from beginning to end.
So thank you to all our family, our friends, our readers. To all the good, talented, elegant and admirable people. To our colleagues, and to the people who have appeared in our pages. To all those who have trusted us, and helped in our work. You are all part of Hola!
Thank you on behalf of Mercedes. You cannot know just how much happiness you brought her.
Mamen, Eduardo y Mercedes Sánchez Pérez