A WOMAN’S escape from the Spanish Civil War as a young girl is being made into a film for an international film festival this Autumn.

Maria Luisa Toole was born in San Sebastian and was one of Spain’s 4,000 ‘lost children’.

The fled their country in 1937 to colonies in England and never returned home.

The film, entitled ‘To Say Goodbye’ is an animated documentary telling the story of the children using recordings of those who experienced the voyage first hand. It was made by Plymouth-based Izar films.

An 11-year-old-girl at the time, Mrs Toole was one the evacuee’s crammed onto ship built for just 400 people and brought to Southampton — leaving her widowed mother behind in San Sebastian.

She did not see her mother again until 1952.

Mrs Toole said: “My sister and I had to leave our home in San Sebastian because of the bombing and there was no food or anything. Our father was killed fighting for the Republicans. Life was very difficult.”

She was taken to a colony in Cambridge where she grew up and worked as a nanny until she met her Bolton-born husband Brian Toole. He was studying at Cambridge University. Mrs Toole said: “The people in Cambridge were very nice to us, even though we had nothing. We were looked after by lecturers and students at the university, who taught us English.

“We relied on people donating clothes to us — their school pinafores became our Sunday best.

“We would go out and sing and dance to earn extra money.”

She moved to Bolton with her husband when he started work at Walkers tannery and together they had four children: Carmen, Maria, Anna and Sean and three grandchildren Joseph, Mirean and Amaia. Her husband died in 1990.

Once finished, the film will be premiered in San Sebastian International Film Festival in September where Mrs Toole and her family will attend as VIPs.

She, along with her family, visits San Sebastian every year.