María José Sevilla is stepping down as UK director of generic body Foods & Wines from Spain.

Sevilla has worked for the organisation for 30 years, but is leaving to pursue a career as a writer among other things.

She said: “I have loved my work at Foods and Wines from Spain. I have made many friends and learnt so much along the way. Not only this but I have seen the UK’s attitude to Spanish food and wine change out of all recognition over the last 25 years.

“It gives me such pleasure to see how Spain’s chefs, wines, foods and gastronomy are now firmly on the international stage as key movers and I am very much looking forward to working on my own projects which in some small way I hope will continue this momentum.”

One project will be to complete her book, The History of Spanish Food and Wine, due to be published in Britain in 2017.

Former Sainsbury’s wine director Allan Cheeseman, a trade consultant and a friend to Sevilla, said: “She has been at the centre of food and wine from Spain for as long as I care to remember. Her 100% enthusiasm for all things Spain – the emerging wine D.O.’s, the established wine D.O.’s and of course the fabulous cornucopia of Spanish cuisine across this fantastic country – is without parallel.

There is no doubt that María José is the best unofficial ambassador that Spain could ask for, and she’s a lovely lady too.”