Margaret was born Margaret Ellen Haynes in Stoke on Trent on February 17, 1936, the only child of William and Ada Haynes.
Although Margaret recalls having a happy childhood in Hanley, her earliest memories were far from pleasant, with recollections of the Germans bombing the nearby Shelton steelworks in 1940 and Margaret hearing the monstrous exploding shells as she sheltered in the family’s air raid bunker never being erased from her mind.
But the end of the Second World War in 1945 also provided her with one of her most endearing moments when, just days after Germany’s surrender, she visited London with her father and took a trip to Downing Street. As the two of them gazed at the residence of the British prime minister, the door to No10 opened and out strode World War Two hero Winston Churchill, who caught the eye of the nine-year-old Margaret and gave her a triumphant wave.
‘Not many can say that!’ Margaret always proclaimed with a smile that was so full of pride.
Sadly, however, that trip to the capital was to be one of the last that Margaret was able to take with her father, who died of cancer just two years later when she had just turned 11.
In an instant, Margaret’s world had been turned upside down.
Her father and mother had run a successful grocers business together, but now it was up to Ada to run it alone – no easy task with an 11-year-old to care for as well.
But Ada was determined to do as much as she could on her own to keep the business going, enabling her daughter Margaret to fulfil her academic potential.
And Margaret certainly had potential – a potential that helped her dream of becoming a schoolteacher become reality.
The former Rose Queen at St Luke’s Church in Hanley excelled at junior school and excelled at Brownhills High School, achieving outstanding grades in her O Levels and A Levels and collecting several school subject prizes along the way.
Those grades earned her a place at Nottingham County Training College, where she qualified as an English and Religious Education teacher.
Her first teaching roles were at junior schools in Longton and Trentham, before she turned her attention to teaching older pupils.
It was also at this time that Margaret become more involved in amateur dramatics and where she met and fell in love with her husband Ted.
Within a year, they had married, on August 4, 1960.
She was now Margaret Roberts – a name she adored, although that adoration was challenged a number of years later when another Margaret Roberts burst on to the political scene under her married name of Margaret Thatcher, who as education secretary had threatened to turn the whole schooling system on its head.
As someone who was so passionate about the British education system, that was something Margaret found hard to bear. Teaching meant so much to her, and it was a passion that never faded.
But Margaret was also passionate when it came to her family and she had always dreamed of having a number of children. Unfortunately, after a first health-challenging pregnancy, that hope faded, and so Margaret and Ted had to settle for the one child, Chris, who was born in October 1964.
In the early years following Chris’s arrival, Ted’s job meant the family lived in Hawarden and Buckley – where Margaret was still able to secure part-time teaching roles – before another promotion for Ted meant the family had to move to Batley.
Again, Margaret had little trouble finding employment and became a full-time English teacher at Princess Royal Girls High School in Carlinghow.
Then, a couple of years later, following a merger of girls high schools in the Batley area, a new school opened at Howden Clough, with Margaret among the first group of senior staff members.
Within a couple of years, she was deputy head of the lower school and head of pastoral care, underlying how much she cared for the welfare of her pupils.
After retiring in the early 1990s, and particularly following the marriage of Chris to Jane in 1992, Margaret and Ted devoted more of their time to their love of travel, visiting such places as Australia, Canada and all across American, with San Diego their favourite location.
The arrival of their beloved only granddaughter, Amelia, in 1996 meant they spent less time travelling and more time baby sitting – although it was something they both adored.
But it was also around this time that Ted’s health began to suffer, with a serious heart condition and cancer diagnosis hitting the couple incredibly hard.
Margaret, however, remained strong throughout and was never far from Ted’s side. They were a couple who no-one could ever imagine being apart.
That was, of course, until Ted’s ultimately sudden death from a heart attack in July, 2011.
Although Margaret appeared to cope with his death well, and had Chris there to provide strong support, it was soon clear just how hard it was hitting her.
She made every attempt to stay close to her friends and regularly attended church to find some extra inner strength, but it wasn’t enough.
She regularly told Chris how, since Ted’s death, she was unable to concentrate long enough to read and found it almost impossible to stay mentally stimulated. She soon feared she was beginning to fall apart mentally and decided to seek professional help. As a result, it was confirmed she was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Margaret, again, appeared to be handling that bombshell well, but there were times when it was clear things were proving far too much for her, and in December 2015 she was taken into care. Margaret’s new home was Ashworth Grange Care Home in Dewsbury, and she loved it there.
To be honest, it probably helped that she had taught some of her carers, which may have earned her a little extra attention here and there.
Yet, as a place to spend her final years, it couldn’t have been better – although COVID restrictions meant she never got the chance to really get to know Amelia’s partner Jack, and missed out on giving her first great grandchild Ethan a great big cuddle and the chance to spoil him rotten, which she most certainly would!
Yes, it may have been as a result of a fall at the home that finally resulted in her death after 10 days in Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, but as someone who had been prone to many falls over a number of years, there was always a possible such an event may ultimately lead to her death.
But whatever the circumstances of her death, Margaret Ellen Roberts had a good life and we can all thank God for that.
The above were the words my husband Chris wrote for his mum’s funeral on 22 October 2021. She died in hospital on 15 September 2021.