EASINGTON lost its own Margaret as a pitman’s daughter who grew up to become deputy matron of a leading London teaching hospital has died at the age of 101.
Margaret Harper left Easington Colliery for the big city as a teenager in the 1920s, after finding work as a ward orderly at the Whittington Hospital in Islington.
She went on to train as a state registered nurse (SRN) at 18, rising through the ranks to become Whittington’s assistant matron.
“Margaret was intelligent, articulate, bright and feisty,” recalls great-niece Ann Lavery. “She had a good life, travelled the world, worked very hard and really enjoyed herself.
Margaret, the 12th and last child of pitman James Harper and his wife Elizabeth Glendinning, was born at Sherburn, near Durham City, on September 25, 1911.
Margaret was just a few months old when her family left Sherburn for Easington Colliery – then a fledgling community which had grown up around the newly-opened pit.
The little girl, whose mother died when she was just seven, attended Easington Colliery School until she was 14. She was then sent to train in service at the local colliery manager’s house.
Margaret, who never married, eventually returned to Easington Colliery on her retirement – where she was surrounded by Harper relatives in, and around, the area.
Her final years were spent at Donnini House, a sheltered accommodation complex in the village, where she was lovingly cared for by another great-niece, Alison Beeston.
Poor health blighted Margaret’s later life, and she battled hearing and sight problems. She also suffered a number of falls and, following a bout of pneumonia, passed away in hospital on April 11.
n Margaret’s funeral will be held at Durham Crematorium at 10.30am on April 19.