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Tribute to my mum, Margaret

April 2023 Dave, PinkUk

Tribute to my mum, Margaret: April 1938 – March 2023

Margaret Walsh
My mum, Margaret Walsh

I will start off with a bit about my childhood, to help build the picture, and that was generally a very happy and fulfilling experience.

I was born in a small hamlet three miles south of Berkeley in Gloucestershire, near the river Seven where I used to play in the mud looking for eels. Thinking about this now, I consider myself a very lucky kid. As far as I know, the river Seven had the second highest tidal flow in the world, so I experienced a very fast and dangerous flowing water when I was a kid. The tidal range can be as much as 15 metres, twice a day. I could walk there with a friend we were both just under 10, or go anywhere in the countryside by ourselves and lowed to go within a 5 plus mile radius of our house. None of this Namby Pandy stuff you have these days. My mum trusted me and I don't think my dad cared. Though I do have to say there was only one road we could cross and this was a ‘B’ road.

My mum was born a year before the war in April 1938 and lived in Instow, a village on the coast in North Devon. After getting married in September 1958, she and her partner moved to Bevington. She worked as an assistant in a firm of solicitors for four years until I was born and named David, after her late brother David who died just after he got married from a brain tumour in 1962, quickly followed by my sister Fiona in 1963. Margaret then devoted her time to bringing up her family, and become what was called a typical housewife and mother.

Mum carried on the love of gardening she got from her father. As well as flowers she grew fruit & veg, to be used in baking, jam & wine making. In the spring we would go out into the field collecting the dandelions for making dandelion wine, coming home with our hand stained from the sap. In the autumn we would be out again collecting blackberries for jam and elderberries for more wine. This time it our faces & clothes would purple from eating all the berries. There was also no shortage of apples, pears and plumbs due the number of small orchards that we not far away.

We had a large garden that must have been at least two acres that included a chapel that was originally build as an apple pressing building (we were in cider country) and graveyard in the grounds (now the chapel has changed use again to a 5-bedroom detached house). So, it was like the good life in that most of our fruit & vegetables were grown. We kept goats in the chapel for their milk and any male goats that were born we eat. We would even go out and find produce to make wine ie dandelions Elda flowers/berries.

All my friends would play a game and choice the best mum and dad out off our parents. My mum was always picked as the best mum.

In the early 1970s we moved to Leeds and my live went to rat shit, but we will leave that for another day.

You would have thought that would have kept my mum busy but no! Being active was always important to my Mum, and I still don't know how she found the time. This included photography where she had a dark room to develop the negatives. She enjoyed horse riding & playing tennis.

Mum is in black with the rest of the British Judo team
Mum is in black with the rest of the British Judo team

In the late 1960s she took up Judo and became very successful, for a while, she was the top woman competing in the UK. She competing around the country obtaining her Black belt and second Dan, and passed the British Judo Association referee examination in 1971. She was also a qualified Judo coach. She taught Brian Jacks who went on to win Britain’s first medal at the Olympics in Munich 1971. He also went on to win ‘Superstars’ on TV. There were no female judo teams in the Olympic then, if there was, I'm sure she would have done very well. So maybe she was not a typical housewife. I now know where I got my drive to get into outdoor sports.

In the late 1970s she went back to university and obtained a PhD (Doctorate of Philosophy) in psychology.

Margaret & Stewart
Mum & Stewart in Australia

In the late 1970s my mum met her current partner Stewart. When they could they would go down to Headingley to watch Yorkshire cricket. They would also spend a few days in the summer at the Scarborough cricket festival. In 2004 Mum & Stewart were lucky enough to travelled to South Africa to watch England play in a test match series.

After retiring, Mum and Stewart her partner of 45 years, who died three weeks before mum (another sad day), spent as much time as they could travelling the world. Their travels took them across 6 continents from Australia to Vietnam, through Egypt and Hong Kong and all the places in between. As Margaret began struggling with ill health their travels kept them nearer to home but they would still enjoy taking bus tours around the UK until a few of years ago. Their final trip was spending Christmas in Brighton to visit me.

When we were kids we would say to each other who would we prefer to be out parents out of all our mums and dads. Every one would pick my mum. I regret not telling this to my mum this last time I saw her in hospital, even though I thought that would be the last time I would ever see her. my last image is giving here a drink of water via a tiny sponge on a stick.

I love you mummy.


Part two: My HIV/AIDS story

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