Margaret Waddington was the personification- the epitome- of the very best of our Royal Town.
Committed, energetic, loyal and loving, she was one of those people who lit up a room whenever she entered it.
She met Derek 58 years ago in the first year of Harold Wilson's ‘white heat of technology’ Labour government- a meeting which took place appropriately at the trade union ball in Blackpool where they were both born, and both worked for local government.
She and Derek were married for 57 years.
In the late 1970s Margaret started the Save the Children fund in Sutton Coldfield and set up the first Save shop in the Town. She cared deeply about children and over the last decade would talk with such great pride and love about her gorgeous grandchildren Phoebe and Tilly who she adored.
Margaret was a one nation Conservative and so her politics chimed perfectly with the overwhelming views of people throughout the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield.
She served as a Councillor in Trinity ward with a particularly effective group of fellow councillors and colleagues, David Pears and Phil Parkin later succeeded by Ewan Mackey. Canvassing together with Margaret before local elections was always fun and uplifting as we banged on doors throughout Trinity.
During her 14 years as their Councillor, she helped so many. She was always elected with a substantial majority- in spite of the disadvantage of having a name beginning with W which always appeared at the bottom of the ballot paper. This was something she loudly resented!
But her election results reflected the very high esteem in which she was held throughout Trinity ward and it is an attested fact that people who do not easily vote Conservative formed up to support Margaret because of her magnetic appeal, effectiveness and likability.
On the Birmingham City Council she was on numerous committees including the education and vulnerable children overview and scrutiny committee bringing to bear her Save the Children experience and passion. She also served as Vice-Chairman (and with Margaret it would have been Chairman) on something called the ‘peoples public protection committee.’ You may think that sounds like a relic from the Soviet Union and being part of Birmingham City Council, it probably was!
When she stood down as a Councillor she was honoured by her colleagues, of all political persuasions, and became an honorary Alderman on the 22nd of May 2018.
Margaret was a key figure of the Royal Town’s Conservative association - one of the biggest and most successful in the country. She was first a branch chairman and subsequently chairman of the association itself and later its President. She was also a highly effective treasurer and very good at raising money. It was almost impossible to persuade her to spend any of it. Members arriving in our offices would be hailed with the words “I hope you've got your cheque book with you!” Our finances in the local party have never been as fruitful since her period of office.
Margaret served as a trustee at the Sutton Coldfield municipal charities now the Sutton Coldfield charitable trust, a job she loved and from whose hard work and tireless help the Town so benefits.
During Margaret’s time as a trustee, she played a major role in making decisions relating to awards of more than £14 million worth of grants to benefit residents in Sutton Coldfield. When she left the Sutton Coldfield charitable trust as is the custom, she gave her departing donation to the All-Saints scout troop continuing her concern and support for children and young people.
It came as no surprise that for her political service and commitment to our local community she was honoured by Her Majesty the Queen and attended at Buckingham Palace where she received her richly deserved honour from the heir to the throne Prince Charles.
After I was elected as the Royal Town’s Member of Parliament, I heard about Derek and Margaret from Sir George Young now Lord Young but then an MP and friend who used to stay with Derek and Margaret on Little Sutton Lane when attending conferences in Birmingham. He once told me that Derek was one of only three people in Britain who understood public housing finance. (One of the other two has reputedly gone mad!)
But I believe I first met her 22 years ago at a conservative garden party at the home of Burt and Kay Noone where photographs attest that we were line dancing around their swimming pool in the company of Kay, councillor Maureen Cornish and Tessa Miller.
For 24 years she was a justice of the peace in the Town dispensing wisdom and justice in the Town’s court. There was no messing with Margaret in her courtroom where felons stood up straight taking their hands out of their pockets.
We fought together to keep the courthouse open: winning the first time and losing the battle some years later. And when the ownership passed to the Sutton Coldfield Muslim Association and Mosque and inappropriate comments were made in some quarters, it was Margaret Waddington who insisted on joining me for the opening ceremony in her role as Chairman of the local Conservatives, to demonstrate her strong support for our friends in the Muslim community moving there.
She loved this church and was a keen church woman serving here as a much-loved member of the church community and as a church warden for six years.
A friend to so many in our Royal Town, Margaret Alberta Waddington was my close friend and supporter. Always quick to speak her mind and give me her view – and frequently to tell me to get my haircut - you always knew where you were with Margaret. She never blew her own trumpet and always spoke as she found. Whenever I had political problems, she was a wise and utterly loyal supporter and firm friend, she never wavered, and I respected and adored her.
Derek has lost a wonderful wife and companion, David and Sarah a brilliant mother and Phoebe and Tilly a loving caring and doting grandmother.
And I and many others throughout our royal town have lost a dear friend and a wonderful Suttonian. To all Margaret’s friends we send our love and sympathy and condolences, we mourn the loss of a fine Suttonian whose service to our Royal Town and whose support for our local community, we salute and respect and miss at this service today.
Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP