Margaret Phillips

2nd June 1928 - 14th December 2017

Margaret was born in Llanidloes, in mid Wales, the only child of John and Elizabeth Jones. John worked for the Post Office and Elizabeth was in service as a housekeeper. Sadly, just before her 5th birthday, Margaret’s father died of TB and Elizabeth decided to move back to her family home in Tywyn, on Wales’s west coast.

When Margaret left school she refused to go to college because she felt her mother could not afford to support her. Instead she got a job as a lab assistant at the Rocket Research Establishment, down the coast at Aberporth near Cardigan. Here, in the last years of the war, she met her future husband David, or Dai as she called him. A teenage bout of rheumatic fever had prevented him joining the armed forces but at the end of the war he was able to train as a teacher. When David completed his training in 1948 they married, moving first to Liverpool and then south to High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire where, fed up with living in digs but unable to afford to buy a house, they bought a small caravan and parked it on ground rented from a local garage and they lived there for a time with their daughter Sue.

However, David became seriously ill with heart failure and was sent to Oxford for pioneering valve surgery. Fortunately, he made a good recovery but understandably his health remained a major concern for Margaret. So, never being one to leave things to chance, in the late 1950’s she became an early adopter of healthy eating habits. Protecting David from chest infections was another priority for her, once she had read about the anti-bacterial qualities of cider.

Aside from this, she was a keen gardener, landscaping, planting and maintaining a large terraced garden. Her love of flowers and shrubs stayed with her throughout her life, even when latterly she could no longer remember all their names. When she wasn’t gardening, she occupied her time with the Guardian cryptic crossword and was a skilled knitter. Unlike many women of her generation, she returned to part-time work when Sue started school and teaching herself to type enabled her to move from shop assistant to office work; she spent many years as a clerk/receptionist for the Careers Service.

Margaret and David retired from work when Victoria, their granddaughter, was about 18 months old and moved to Preston, They settled in quickly and well - Margaret said she felt more at home in Preston than she ever had in Wycombe - the weather was more like Wales and the people were much friendlier. They then began attending Fulwood Methodist Church.

When David died in 1993 Margaret said it felt as though she had lost part of herself. Nevertheless, self-pity was not part of her character and she rapidly resumed regular church attendance and joined the Women’s Fellowship. The friendship and support she received were invaluable. Over the years, she became the Fellowship secretary, a pastoral visitor and also rode ‘shotgun’ on the minibus, assisting the driver by opening and closing the heavy minibus door and making sure everyone got on and off safely. The first sign of the memory loss that affected her in later years was her gradual withdrawal from these activities as her confidence waned.

However, a couple of years ago, after a fall resulting in a broken hip, Margaret needed to move into a residential home and the excellent care she received at Penwortham Lodge, plus the social interaction with staff and other residents greatly improved her general well-being.

Sue Burt