Remembering Margaret Newstead

Citizens Advice Princess Royal
Margaret Newstead meets HRH the Princess Royal Picture: Stewart Turkington / www.stphotos.co.uk

We dedicate our column this week to a remarkable woman, who continued to volunteer with us until just two weeks before her passing.

A very positive and stoic woman – Margaret has dedicated many years to the voluntary sector in Wokingham Borough, most recently here at Citizens Advice Wokingham and Wokingham Volunteer Centre.

Last week many of our staff and volunteers attended Margaret’s funeral, and it was heartwarming to hear from her four grandchildren. At the service, it was also commented on how involved Margaret was in the local voluntary sector.

That is why we were delighted to have had Margaret presented with a special recognition certificate by HRH The Princess Royal at our royal visit in September 2019, referencing her work with Wokingham Volunteer Centre and ourselves.

Margaret volunteered with us a couple of years ago until leaving due to health problems. She soon returned to volunteering in the area – and rejoined us in January 2019.

I met Margaret for the first time at the volunteer recruitment fayre, it was a Saturday – we had a chat and Margaret was ready, sitting at the reception desk to start volunteering on Monday morning.

Over the last couple of months, Margaret had been providing admin support to one of our new projects, and as her health problems got more restrictive, she asked for a laptop so she could continue to support us at home!

The team here knows that our Advice Task Force project was inspired by Margaret, who was living in sheltered accommodation. She asked me to meet local residents to talk about our service. This is where our pop-up advice idea came from.

Margaret was universally popular in the team and never wanted to let the service or our clients down. In fact, in just wanting one day off, she went to the local shop to buy a diary to start arranging cover. 

Her contributions were always on how we can grow and continue to make a difference to people in the area.

Her strengths came in organising, mobilising our Advice Task Force, coordinating and supporting our volunteer receptionists and most recently in decorating our Christmas tree as I had no idea where to start.

Whenever we needed a helping hand, Margaret would be the first to offer. She provided support to people in many different ways, and trained up many of our wonderful volunteers who are still with us today.

During our 80th anniversary of the Citizens Advice service last year, Margaret was also turning 80. Our colleagues in the national comms team came to visit to record some videos and Margaret had great stories to tell. She never let us down.

I’m proud to have had Margaret as part of our team, and that projects will continue from her influence. On a personal level I am also touched that one of the last messages I received simply says “remember I have your back.”

We will all miss Margaret around the office, her words of wisdom and her unwavering support to make sure our clients get the best possible service that they need. I am glad that Margaret chose to make Citizens Advice Wokingham part of her life.

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