Eight decades of dedication rewarded

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Peggy proudly shows off her MBE. Pic © Hannah Wilkinson JMU Journalism

For 97-year-old Marjorie Maskrey, helping Birkenhead’s most vulnerable has been part of her day-to-day life for the last 81 years.

Marjorie, more commonly known as ‘Peggy’, has been involved with the Charles Thompson Mission ever since she was eight when she arrived on the doorstep with her mother in 1928. At 16 she began volunteering, and has done so ever since.

After dedicating more than eight decades to helping the mission, Peggy was awarded an MBE for her services to the community in the Queen’s Birthday Honours last month.

Speaking to JMU Journalism, Peggy said: “I come Wednesday and Fridays, I used to come every day but now the spirit is willing but the body is weak.”

The mission, which first opened in 1892 by Charles Thompson,  provides food, furniture, clothes, healthcare, counselling services and toys to the disadvantaged people on the Wirral.

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When Mr Thompson died in 1903, his goals lived on through daughter, Annie, who became the charity’s Lady Superintendent for 60 years.

In 1953, Annie was awarded the MBE for services to the people of Birkenhead – the same honour that Peggy received from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. “He said what a good job I was doing and he couldn’t believe my age,” she said.

After growing up in poverty, Peggy knows the struggle and has continued to make it her duty to help those in need.

She even met her husband working at the mission. With an average of 70 visitors per day, the mission is a key aspect to the community of Birkenhead. The manager, Bernie Frost, serves breakfast every morning at 7am for the people who have slept rough. At nine, the other volunteers arrive and the doors are open for anyone who needs their services.

Peggy said: “I do anything that wants doing. I brush up, I make up parcels, I wash up in the kitchen, whatever wants doing, I’ll do. I’ve been here that long that if I see a job that wants doing I’ll automatically do it.”

About Hannah Wilkinson, JMU Journalism