4 April 1925 to 3 April 2017
Margaret was a woman with a twinkle in her bright blue eyes. She was a very proper lady with impeccable manners, but there was always a whiff of mischief about her. Her smile and her sense of fun were infectious.
This tribute is taken from the eulogy given by Revd Nick Bundock at Margaret’s funeral at St James church on 28 April.
Margaret was born near Barlow Moor Road in Streets Buildings, which no longer exists. She was brought up on Osborne Street, opposite Emmanuel. Although Margaret was a Didsbury girl, her mother, born in 1891, was not. She came from a Cumberland farming family and was one of ten. Margaret’s father was, among other things, a lorry driver who saw active service in World War I.
Margaret was brought up in the Emmanuel church community and remained part of it throughout her life. She told me that she remembered the original Emmanuel church hall – not the one that was knocked down in 2007, but the one before that! Margaret’s memory of church and community was unparalleled. She switched attendance to St James after the reordering of Emmanuel in the 1980s, but remained loyal to the joint parish until the end.
Margaret went to Elm Grove, which was then known as Didsbury National then. Afterwards, she went to Fallowfield High School. In 1943, she joined the army, rising to sergeant in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. She left the army in 1947.
At one stage Margaret had hoped for an army commission, but her family forbad it – they wanted her home and earning money. She had also hoped, as a young woman, to have a professional career as a singer. Music, especially sacred music, remained hugely important to her all her life and she was a member of Altrincham Choral Society for many years.
She married Bob in 1949 and although I never met him, some of you here today remember him well. Bob died in 2003 and Margaret talked about him often. Ian, their only child, was born in 1962. After Bob’s death, Margaret moved to the downstairs flat in Holt House. She was very happy in that flat, with its lovely central position in Didsbury. She was very proud of her flat too.
The latter years of Margaret’s life saw the death of many of her old friends, but despite these losses she continued to have a very active social life. She enjoyed and hugely valued her friends at St James and Emmanuel, in the choral society and especially the Merry Widows, who continue to spice up the atmosphere in The Deli with their banter and comradery.
Margaret was a woman who understood the importance of commitment and being in for the long haul. An example of this was her dedicated to service to the WRVS. She ran the club that met in the various Emmanuel halls for at least forty years, until the old age and infirmity of its members – not Margaret – drew it to a close.
Margaret’s oldest friend, Marie, was a friend from army days and married her late brother Joe. Marie still lives in Essex and is now 96 years old.
Ian has his own reflections of his mother to add. You’ll recognise some of these for yourself. Ian remembers a mother who was, above all, loving and supportive and very proud of being a mother. She was also astonishingly tolerant – she was never heard expressing a word of prejudice about any person or group. Margaret loved her work as a school secretary in Longsight and was exposed to many cultures and backgrounds at that school. She loved this.
They sometimes call people of Margaret’s generation the “silent generation” because they worked hard, expected little and enjoyed the simple pleasures of life. Margaret was like this. She didn’t broadcast her feelings and felt that responsibility for her problems was first and foremost hers. Even when Ian went abroad on active duty, flying around in rescue helicopters, she didn’t show him her worries. She would simply come to the communion rail here in St James and whisper to me before receiving the bread – ‘please pray for Ian, he’s back in Afghanistan.’
Margaret was fiercely independent, but her first thoughts were always for others. She had a limited income, but she was always generous with what she had. She was, as Ian said to me ‘admirable as well as lovable’. Through everything, she was sustained by her strong faith, but like everything, her faith was a personal thing and not something she broadcast. She was very much an Anglican.
Ian wrote these words to me: ‘I hadn’t realised until it happened how much I will miss her.’ Ian, I think we all feel that with you. Your mum was an absolute gem. And you’re absolutely right that she was not simply a loving mother, friend and church member, but symbolised a generation and a way of life that is coming to an end. We are so fortunate to have hung on to their coat tails and we are all the poorer for their passing. It’s down to us now to imitate her loving, quiet, unfussy sense of community, steady volunteerism and love of God and others.
Ian has reflected that her sudden death and passing would have been far preferable to her than a slow physical or mental decline with the accompanying loss of independence. But perhaps you feel as I do – I wish I could just have five more minutes with her to say goodbye. When I dropped in with some daffodils after her discharge from care and gave her a little kiss on the cheek, I didn’t realise that would be my last precious memory of her and I know many of you will have your last memory stored away too.
As a final word, Ian has written this:
I find as well as much love for a very special mum, a huge sense of respect for how she faced the challenges of what wasn’t always an easy life- there was never much money, and perhaps less recognition than she should have received, but it never got her down and she soldiered on.
Margaret is missed terribly, but everyone who knew her is so grateful for the ways she enriched their lives.