Tributes made to mother who dedicated her life to teaching in Letchworth and serving as a magistrate

Margaret Wiggs in 1973

Margaret Wiggs in 1973 - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to a mother who dedicated her life to teaching and serving as a magistrate.

Margaret Wiggs at Odsey Village School in the mid to late 1950s.

Margaret Wiggs at Odsey Village School in the mid to late 1950s. - Credit: Archant

Margaret Wiggs passed away at the age of 84 on Saturday, May 23, after suffering from a debilitating illness, leaving behind a lifetime of service to the community in Letchworth.

Her thirst for education began at an early age, thriving at Hillshott School and later Letchworth Grammar School, having moved to Hillbrow with her family in 1936.

After spells teaching in Shefford and as headmistress of Odsey School – a single room facility which she taught every subject including, ‘to her chagrain’, PE – Margaret was one of the original teachers at Highfield School at its opening in 1965.

Three years earlier Margaret was nominated by the Letchworth Labour Party to become a magistrate on the North Hertfordshire Bench and, in doing so at the age of 30, she became the youngest justice of the peace in the country.


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Upon her retirement in 1991, Margaret was the longest serving JP in the area, and hugely missed her role as a magistrate.

Margaret had married Letchworth man and fellow naturalist, Richard Wigg, in 1953, and lived with him in Lytton Avenue until moving to Grade-II listed building Fairfield House in Biggleswade in 1976.

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Margaret’s three daughters –Sarah, Josephine and Belinda – paid tribute to their mother in a joint statement.

“Mother was part of the first generation of women who were able to go to university, be married and have a family, but also have a professional career,” they said.

“She was greatly liked and respected by students and staff alike at Highfield School, and talked about her time at Odsey with great affection.

“In 1957, when eldest daughter Sarah was born, mother returned to work leaving the six-month-year-old at home with father. This would not be so remarkable today, but back then it was a rather unusual arrangement.

“While working as a magistrate – which she did for many years – from time to time her pupils, and former pupils, would appear before her in court.

“Such was the mutual affection between mother and her students that there was never any ill will on either side.

“She supported our father emotionally, intellectually and financially, enabling him to give up his teaching job in 1967 to found The Anti-Concorde Project, and later to organise The Nuclear Freeze Advertising Campaign – she greatly mourned his loss when he passed away in 2001.

“Retirement gave mother the opportunity to travel, and in addition to the adventurous trips she made to visit a sister in Kenya and another sister in the United States, she visited Scotland, Norway, Portugal, Italy and Australia.”

The funeral will take place at Barton Woodland Burial Ground in Comberton Road, just outside Cambridge, on Monday, June 8, from 3pm.

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