Margaret Anne McDONALD (1874-1950)
Margaret Anne McDonald (1874-1950), known as Maggie, was a teacher at Badsey Council School and sister-in-law of the Headmaster.
Maggie was born on 28th March 1874 at Higher Kinnerton, Dodleston, Flintshire (now part of Cheshire), the eldest of five children of John Henry McDonald and his wife, Margaret Ann Scott (née Currie). Her father was a schoolmaster and was Head of the village school. In the late 1870s, they moved to the village of Hope in Flintshire where they were at the time of the 1881 census. Later in the 1880s the McDonalds moved to Farnborough, Warwickshire, where they lived in the School House; by 1891 Margaret was training as a pupil teacher.
The family moved to Badsey in October 1894 when Mr McDonald became Headmaster of Badsey Board School as it was then called, and which was then still located in the original 1854 building on the High Street. Maggie gained a post as Assistant Mistress at the school where she was to remain for the rest of her teaching career. The new school building opened on School Lane on 21st June 1895 and, in January 1896, the McDonalds were able to move into the new School House which had been built next to the school.
From 1910, Maggie’s father began suffering greatly from ill-health. Sometimes a supply Headteacher was sent but, on one occasion, Maggie took charge of the school. Maggie’s mother died in 1911 and her father in 1913. The new Headmaster was her future brother-in-law, Frank Amos.
Maggie was in charge of Badsey Council School for two years during the First World War, from February 1915 when Frank Amos volunteered in Kitchener’s Army, until February 1917 when he was invalided out of the army. Maggie is mentioned in a letter of 16th July 1915 from May Sladden about Ethel liaising with Miss McDonald concerning collecting eggs for wounded soldiers. She is also mentioned in two letters from Mela Brown Constable in July and August 1916 concerning her brother, Douglas.
Many elderly residents of Badsey today have vivid memories of Miss McDonald who took Standard V and was a great favourite with the children. A short lady with glasses, she was also responsible for Needlework in the school and was a good musician. A large picture of her father, the former Headmaster, hung on the wall. There was also a big scroll chart with all the Kings and Queens of England from 1066 which was unrolled and learnt by heart, a relief map of the Evesham District and a large case of stuffed birds.
After nearly 45 years’ service at Badsey, Maggie retired on 31st August 1939. “The school will greatly miss her valued services as she has been my chief assistant for the past 26 years,” wrote Frank Amos in the Log Book. Less than a fortnight after retiring, because of the crisis brought about by the start of the war and the influx of evacuees, Margaret was back in school giving voluntary help in teaching and clerical work.
Maggie lived with her younger sister, Elizabeth, also unmarried, at 1 Mostyn Villas, Chapel Street, Badsey. Maggie died at St Paul’s Hospital, Cheltenham, on 7th April 1950, aged 76. She was buried four days later at Badsey.
In the Parish Magazine of May 1950, Charles Binyon wrote: “By the death of Miss M A McDonald, the villages have lost one who was familiar to nearly everyone and there can be no more widely respected than she was. For fifty years she taught in our School and many members of our population were her pupils. It is safe to say that her influence and example have done much for them. She was a born teacher and always maintained good order and discipline without apparent effort, but those who knew her best were conscious of the amount of hard work involved. She did much to keep up the very high reputation of the School, but she always shunned publicity and was content to lead a life of quiet unselfishness.”