As a child Margaret lived on Ulrika Street now Ulrika Terrace on the Donegall Road with her older sister and brother.

“There were no nurseries and you didn’t get to school until you were seven years old”

Margaret suffered rheumatic fever when she was eight years old and her mother was told she wouldn’t survive.

As a teenager she attended Felt Street Mission. The mission had an American preacher. She became a Christian in 1935 when she was 14. Mission halls were to play a pivotal role in Margaret’s life. It was here that she met Alexander Crawford Browne, who in 1931 had been elected as a Member of Parliament for west Belfast.

She remembers World War 2 “We were in the coal house and it’s the lowest part of the kitchen, some things moved and it frightened us but my father put his arms around us and we were all close together” Margaret’s used her Christian faith to help give comfort to others during these air raids. “You see, we were the ones who did the praying, I would have went over to the Bloomers and stayed with them, and the the Murphy’s wanted my father in their house, but it shows you the way neighbours blended in those days”

Margaret talks of being evacuated from Belfast to the country to Ballynahinch.

After the war, Margaret volunteered for the YMCA. She looked after children on Saturdays and teenagers on Wednesday nights. “We used to invite fellas from the Falls to come and play a game and give them tea, it worked great, we kept it going for eighteen years”

In 1957 Margaret was asked to become the wool lady at the Royal Maternity Hospital. She worked there for eighteen years. She sold wool at cost price to the mothers and knitted bonnets for the newly born babies. “I loved it because you felt you were helping the people, in the Royal Maternity, we bought the wool wholesale and sold to the patients at the wholesale price, so I used to encourage them to buy it and then started knitting when they went home”

In the 1960s, with her husband, Bobby, who was an Orthotist, Margaret travelled around the clinics and hospitals in Northern Ireland supplying neck and ankle braces for patients. Bobby had his Orthopaedic workshop in Donegall Pass which was beside the police barracks. She talks of when the bomb went off which destroyed the business. “I was able to walk down to the workshop and I saw it, the front was still standing, water everywhere and I just stood and looked at it, I thought I was dreaming”

Reflecting on her life Margaret says. “It’s strange when you get older, you see I was always busy working but now I’m able to relax, and you can think right back to nearly the day you were born, it’s wonderful the way your mind works”.

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