Meet Margaret

Margaret was having a happy life working as a teacher in Africa, when her life took a dramatic turn.

after qualifying as a teacher in 1949 at the Edinburgh College of Domestic Science, I worked at several schools, including the Tadcaster Grammar School in Lancashire. Getting itchy feet, I moved to Jamaica and taught at the Wolmers Girls School in Kingston.

After three years in Jamaica, I did a year in a London comprehensive, before taking a job in Malawi (Nyasaland) Central Province where I travelled around schools run by the Government and religious establishments.

Life-changing

I was having a happy life as a teacher in Africa, when my life took a dramatic turn. Whilst driving with a friend to a swimming party, the car swerved and after rolling over and over into the bush, landed upside down with me trapped inside paralysed. In those few seconds my life changed drastically.

After lying in hospital for a couple of months, I was fortunately transferred to the best possible hospital in the UK - the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury. There, I spent the rest of 1959 becoming rehabilitated to a useful wheelchair user."

A life full of sport

Sport played a large part in this rehab and I became quite good at archery. On returning to my home in Lancashire, I joined an archery club. I became involved in the world of wheelchair sport started by the famous Sir Ludwig Guttmann. To my surprise I was selected to go to the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960 and was lucky to win the first gold medal for Britain. This led to a full life of wheelchair sport both competing and developing sport for others. The culmination of this was to be asked by Lord Sebastian Coe last year to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games.

Back to teaching

Following the accident, I took two years out of teaching to get used to living in a wheelchair and then managed to get a job in a Girls Secondary Modern school in Watford, where I taught what we called domestic science, then it changed to home economics and now it goes by far grander titles! Teaching from a wheelchair was a challenge, but I soon fitted in and the children accepted me without any question. After seven years, I did an advanced course in science in Home Economics and moved to a comprehensive school in Bushey.

In my mid 50s, after another 15 years teaching, I had to take early retirement because of deterioration of health.

During my retirement years, I have been helped twice with grants from the Education Support Partnership. From the early days of my injury I only used a manual wheelchair and all my teaching years were in a manual chair. With constant pushing one’s arms and shoulders suffer from overuse.

My first grant helped me get a lightweight wheelchair that the NHS could not provide. Then I began to find this too heavy on my arms and in order to keep my independence I needed a motorised system. I discovered a system whereby motorised wheels can be attached to a wheelchair, which is operated with a joystick. This is what my second grant from Education Support Partnership was for and I am now able to manage freely in my motorised wheelchair on my own and lead a reasonable life as an 85 year old retired teacher.

The difference to my wellbeing is wonderful both physically and psychologically. Without your grant I would have been unable to achieve this.

How we help

  • Help for individuals  
    Sometimes work (or just life) can be tough. A challenging student, an Ofsted inspection, personal financial worries; there are many stresses on those who work in education. That’s why we offer free, confidential help and support, no matter what your problem.
  • Help for organisations 
    Working in education is demanding so we’ve designed a set of services to help you check how your teams are coping, troubleshoot problems and boost everyone’s wellbeing.