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Obituary: The Rev Margaret Pilkington

Margaret Pilkington, died on August 14 after a relatively short illness. She graduated from University College Leicester in 1951 with a BA in English, the following year completing a Diploma in Education Studies. 

She was born in Accrington in 1930 and educated at the Girls’ High School. She started her teaching career in 1952 at Cowley Girls School in St Helens where she taught English.

In 1958 she fulfilled a resolve she had once made to teach abroad and was appointed to Ying Wa Girls’ School in Hong Kong where she taught English and later was Deputy Head. The school had been established in 1900 by the London Missionary Society (now Council for World Mission) and Margaret valued greatly the fellowship of Christians working in various capacities in the Mission. She developed a life-long love of the people and of all things Chinese and was fortunate to visit the mainland even in 1967 during the Cultural Revolution. She was in Hong Kong, apart from one year in England, until 1972 when she and other ex-patriates withdrew to enable Chinese teachers to take over.

After a term teaching immigrants in Bradford, Margaret went to Liverpool Institute School for Girls (Blackbourne House) and in Liverpool she studied for two years for a Diploma in Religious Education.

In 1979 Margaret moved to Casterton when she was appointed Deputy Head at Casterton School. Owing to the illness and subsequent death of the Head, Tom Penny, she was Acting Head for four terms. She enjoyed her time at Casterton, her contact with students and with their parents, the teaching and the administration. Inevitably, work in a boarding school is all-consuming and so in order to meet people in the village she joined the Women's Institute.

Margaret took early retirement in 1987 and since then continued to live an active life. She was able to travel abroad including a number of visits to Hong Kong and China – on one occasion going to meet Chinese Christians in churches as far west as Yunan. She gave hospitality to Chinese students from Lancaster University and has given innumerable lectures on various aspects of life in China. She was always pleased to return to Casterton School for concerts and social events – and even to preach.

A committed Christian all her life, Margaret had at one time investigated the possibility of becoming a Deaconess, but decided that her vocation was in teaching. When she retired, however, she wanted to be more active in the church and in 1989 she was licensed as a Reader in the Team Ministry of Kirkby Lonsdale. She enjoyed the work, became a valued member of the Team and also had some involvement in aspects of work in the Diocese. Margaret continued her interest in the WI, and was President of the local branch for three years. Included in the many aspects of her service to the community has been membership of the local Abbeyfield Committee.

Margaret led a rich and fulfilled life, feeling blessed to be a Reader in her retirement. She was therefore overwhelmed when Bishop Dow suggested that she should be Ordained. She became a Deacon in 2001 and a Priest in 2002.

The wide diversity and the number of people - including University contemporaries - that attended her funeral service was a mark of the respect and love in which she was held by so many people whose lives she had touched.

Jean Chennell

  • Jean Chennell also recalls that Margaret attended the 2001 Forties Reunion of University graduates.

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Last updated: 1 October 2002 17:00
Created by: Rachel Tunstall
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