MARGARET ELIZABETH RHODES (nee RICHARDS)
Born 21st April 1939 – Died Sunday 9 August 2015
Margaret was born in Bournville, Birmingham to Howard and Vera Richards. Bournville is the home of Cadburys known for its chocolate and its Quaker owners. Margaret or Maggy as she was known to all her school friends was at Sibford from September 1950 until July 1955. She had an older brother John who also went to Sibford in September 1947 and left in July 1953. Maggy and her brother were brought up as Quakers following the religion of their Mother.
Maggy and I first became friends in 1950. We travelled together from Snow Hill Station in Birmingham to Banbury. We used to meet up in the holidays and stayed at each other’s houses on many occasions. Maggy was a particular favourite of my parents especially my Mother, with her happy friendly personality and ability to talk to all ages. At school, apart from the usual academic subjects, Maggy enjoyed sport, particularly hockey and was also very good at art. She won prizes at the Banbury Arts and Crafts Festival and gained Royal Life Saving Awards. Maggy was House Captain for Nansen.
After we left school, we went cycling together across Wales to Ireland, staying in youth hostels. We also went to Germany, travelling by bicycle across Belgium and Holland to Hamburg and then down to Stuttgart and Heidelberg. Another year we went by train to the South of France.
Maggy started training to be a nurse in January 1958 at the General Hospital in Birmingham. She completed her training in March 1961 and received a certificate as a state registered nurse (S.R.N.) She became a Staff Nurse and also obtained a Midwifery Qualification. She then went to work in Switzerland, coming home in May 1962 to receive the Queen Elizabeth School of Nursing Prize at Birmingham University. This award is given to the nurse who makes the greatest contribution as a 4th year nurse.
Maggy became godmother to my first child Stacey Elisabeth born in 1964 and last October she and Peter came to Stacey’s wedding.
On 1st December 1964 Maggy became the first Ward Sister in the Ophthalmic Ward at Selly Oak Hospital. She had initially set up this Ward and this is where she met her future husband Peter Rhodes. They married at Bournville Meeting House on 15 September 1967 and had a good, happy marriage with three lovely sons, Edward, Nick and Stephen. Their sons are all married and Margaret and Peter were blest with five grandchildren, the eldest is 11 and the youngest 3.
When Edward started school, Maggy and three friends established a pre-school nursery in Blackwell in Worcestershire, which ran successfully for many years.
After a ten year break from nursing, when her sons were all at school, Maggy returned to nursing. Initially this was with Consultants in Private Practice, at Five Ways, Birmingham and then at a Private Hospital in Droitwich in Worcestershire, Her work mainly concerned patients with cancer.
Maggy continued to be an active Quaker initially attending Bournville Meeting and later transferring to Barnt Green in Worcestershire. She was an Elder/Overseer, latterly becoming Convenor of Elders and Overseers, a member of the Area Meeting Overseers Support Group, Assistant Clerk and Clerk of Meeting. She was also a member of the Management Committee of Oaktree House which provides sheltered housing predominately for Friends.
Over the years Maggy and I have kept in touch with a number of school friends who live in different parts of the country. Some worked in Birmingham, others attended the annual get-together of the Midlands Branch of Old Scholars at Selly Oak Meeting House. Several old scholars who were in the same year as us at school have met annually for many years sometimes visiting the school at Sibford, going to the theatre in Stratford on Avon, or visiting each other’s houses. We all felt that we had got to know and understand each other because we were full time boarders at school and supported each other when our parents were not there to give advice.
Maggy loved to paint and was very interested and knowledgeable about the history of art. We regularly visited art exhibitions generally at Birmingham Art Gallery. I have a painting that she did for me of The Manor House at Sibford Ferris.
Margaret’s funeral service at Redditch was held in the form of a Quaker Meeting. In the reading it was said that Margaret lived by the words on the school crest ” Truth and Honour, Freedom and Courtesy “
Maggy died peacefully at home, well looked after by her husband Peter.
Written by Sylvia Williams (nee Webster) at Sibford 1948-1955