A PACKED church of all nationalities gathered for a moving memorial mass for the beloved British broadcaster Karen McMahon at La Cala de Mijas’ Santa Teresa parish church yesterday.
Pastor Juan Naena led the service, during which Reverend David Hodgson of Calahonda Evangelical Church paid tribute to Karen who died in May following a brave fight with a lengthy illness.
The well-known Mijas figure began working with the Euro Weekly News many years ago on Bookworld España, before going on to present a hugely successful and popular programme on Mijas Comunicacion from 2009.
The journalist, who presented English-language programme News with Views, was also responsible for show Mijas Internacional.
Addressing a full congregation, Reverend Hodgson said: “I never met Karen but I feel like I knew her. I know she loved shoes, particularly wearing odd ones, as well as country music and line dancing.
“I see that most of the ladies here are wearing different colour shoes also.”
He regaled a story of a widow who had no English television after losing her husband, only moments watching Karen on television.
“That was her company in her lonely times, and I think that is Karen’s legacy. For me, that testimony speaks volumes. She was able to reach out to people.
“We all need to look out for each other more, check on our neighbours as we do not know what tomorrow will bring. There are British and Spanish here, as well as other nationalities, which shows how Karen impacted on people’s lives. Mijas is a better place for Karen.”
He spoke of Karen’s incredible sense of humour, and urged everybody who ever knew Karen to enjoy laughter.
“Feel no guilt in laughter, she would know how much you care and in those moments you will never be apart, and Karen will live forever safe in our hearts,” he said.
Daphne Theunissen of the Women’s Association of Soroptimist International Costa del Sol also paid tribute to her friend and fellow member, recalling how Karen walked the Camino Santiago in high heels.
She explained how Karen would always raise awareness about women and girls’ rights on her show, and always put guests on her programme at ease.
“You could feel her big heart for people, and her constant honesty. I can’t believe she has gone but I know she will live on in all of us.”
Speaking after the ceremony, new president of Mijas La Cala Lions Club, Anita Humphreys, said: “What Karen did for us was unbelievable, she was always there to support the Lions. She had a wonderful soul.”
Ali Meehan, founder of Costa Women, said that when she thinks about Karen, she thinks about generosity.
“She was always generous with her time. She made time to hear about your projects, support local charities, share your latest news, or explore your ideas. She was generous with her support of the local communities being well integrated into the Spanish and foreign community alike. She was generous with her friendship; there was always fun and laughter when Karen was around. She made a difference to the lives of so many people here on the Costa del Sol – the memories will remain.”
Friend and songwriter Rashpal Rani added: “Karen was a beautiful, quirky lady, as well as weird and strange in the best kind of way. She was lovely, bouncy, positive and very true. She will always be loved and missed.”
EWN CEO Michel Euesden said: “Karen was a big personality in the local community and her passing is an enormous loss. She spread happiness throughout both the Spanish and English communities. “
As well as Karen’s parents and other family members from the UK and friends, the memorial mass was attended by:
UK Consul Charmaine Abuien, Vice Consul Rosslyn Grotty, American Consul Bobby Aaron, the Mayor of Mijas Juan Carlos Maldonado and politicians from different parties.
Also present were: Anette Skou and Katja Thirion of the Foreigners Department, Mijas Town Hall, the director of Mijas Comunicacion Laura Delgada and Karen’s local TV colleagues, representatives from Age Care, Age Concern, Missisippi Coast Line Dancers and Press Club Costa del Sol, and various media outlets including Euro Weekly News.
After the mass, Mijas Comunicación offered an Ágape and the Line Dancers performed in memory of Karen.