May Howard (c) with two of the participants at her recent Cudeca fundraiser in Benalmádena. / SUR

A passionate dedication to the fight against cancer

Benalmádena resident May Howard has raised approximately 10,000 euros for Cudeca over the last five years

TONY BRYANT

The expat community of the Costa del Sol has an esteemed reputation for coming together in order to help those in need in times of crisis, as the amount of volunteer-run charities and associations will demonstrate. Along with these organisations are untold individuals who arrange charitable activities and awareness campaigns in order to offer extra support, and many of these people have helped raise thousands of euros while doing so.

One of this caring army of fundraisers is May Howard, a Benalmádena resident who, since arriving in the town, has become a dedicated supporter of Cudeca. Over the last five years, May has raised approximately 10,000 euros for the cancer charity, a foundation she describes as "an incredible and amazing charity".

Born in Scotland "many years ago", May moved to Brixton in south London in 1973, where her father worked in the civil service. She lived in London for 28 years, where she worked as a secretary.

She arrived on the Costa del Sol in 2001 and set up home in Benalmádena Pueblo, and after 18 months, she moved her family to Arroyo de la Miel, where she still lives today.

May was no stranger to Benalmádena because she had enjoyed several holidays in the town prior to setting up home there, so she felt quite at ease in her chosen place of residence, which she describes as a "home from home".

Her son was nine when she arrived and she enrolled him in the Sunny View School in Benalmádena, and May also endeavoured to further her own education.

"I continued working as a secretary on the coast, although I did not speak the language, so I began taking Spanish lessons at a school in Carvajal. I did not find this too difficult because I wanted to learn in order to broaden my horizons," May explains to SUR in English.

May's fundraising efforts had begun long before she arrived in Benalmádena, as she has participated in the Moon Walk night marathon in the UK in order to raise money for breast cancer research.

"Years ago, my cousin told me about the Moon Walk, and I thought, wow, I'd love to do a marathon, although I knew I couldn't run one. Thankfully, you are not allowed to run," May says, with a hint of relief.

May's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after she took part in her first marathon, and she has since participated in five editions of the walk.

Discovering Cudeca

Before May discovered Cudeca, she had organised events for Positively Pink and Positively Blue, along with a sponsored walk to raise money for Breast Cancer UK. It would be a personal tragedy that would trigger her association with Cudeca.

"A friend of mine was under their care and he died about five years ago. They looked after him really well and, after he died, I made the decision that whatever I did in the future would always be for Cudeca," she explains.

Her first event was held in Benalmádena in 2017, followed by another the following year, although she did not organise one in 2019. This was because she was participating in the Moon Walk in Scotland and felt it was "too much to ask of people to donate twice in one year".

Her last event took place in September in Benalmádena, a competitive fun sports day that raised 2,500 euros.

"I have organised sponsored walks and sports events, as well as raffles to raise money for Cudeca. I also help with the collection tins," she declares.

May, who says she is "quite athletic", is also a regular participant in the annual walkathon, although she says she is surprised by the amount of people who have not heard of Cudeca.

"I can't imagine what it would be like without Cudeca, but I am amazed at the amount of people in Benalmádena who are unaware of them. I don't normally notice too many Brits participating in the Cudeca Walkathon either," she says.

May says she will continue raising money for Cudeca, and she intends to also take part in next year's Walkathon, because, as she is keen to stress, "Cudeca is a really great cause".