Playa Flamenca resident Maria Wilson has been awarded the British Empire Medal in King Charles III Birthday Honours List 2024. Maria, aged 76, is well-known as a local fundraiser having established Maria and the Pink Ladies anti-cancer charity in 2010 after having been diagnosed with breast cancer. She continues to run the Pink Ladies and Pink Panthers alongside her role as President of the AACC.
During that time the charity has raised more than 576,515 euros of which every penny has been donated to the AACC and used towards helping local residents in the prevention and battle against cancer, predominantly through subsidised cancer screening checks for male and female cancers including bowel, skin, breast, prostate, cervical and ovarian.
Maria’s breast cancer was found though screening and after a mammogram found her cancer, Maria was told that the early detection had saved her life. It was this experience that made her determined to not only encourage people to get tested but to make sure that the process was affordable and accessible to all, particularly expats who may not have access to the Spanish health system.
Since then, Maria has battled cancer a further three times, the last being lung cancer earlier this year. Despite her own situation Maria has always made sure the work of the charity and the association carried on as usual and said: “I have a passion for Early Detection and intend to carry on the fight for as long as I’m able.”
The money Maria and the Pink Ladies have donated over the years has been raised through personal donations by members of the public and numerous special events including the Santa Walf and the flagship Walk for Life, which this year alone is estimated to raise an amazing 5,000 euros.

The British Empire Medal is awarded for ‘hands-on’ service to the local community. This could be a long-term charitable or voluntary activity, or innovative work of a relatively short duration (3 to 4 years) that has made a significant difference to people’s lives.
Maria said: “I would like to thank all the Pink Ladies over the years, numbering over 60 different ladies and more recently the Pink Panthers, as I couldn’t have done it by myself. Also, the people of Orihuela Costa who have supported us along the way and donated so kindly and selflessly and helped save so many lives.
“I still can’t believe that I been given this award and feel truly honoured and grateful. I am delighted that the work of the charity and all involved has been recognised and am determined to continue the work to fight this terrible disease.”