She passed away on the evening of the 5th September after a long battle with illness, and was cremated near her home in Los Belones, Spain, in a small private ceremony, according to her wishes, on 9th September.
Maggie was passionate about improving the child welfare system, and her work often focused on children who had been neglected by the government.
As a child rights campaigner, Maggie worked in several fields during her lifetime.
Maggie was a direct force inside the system, forging powerful networks and assisting children directly through her advocacy. While in London she would regularly visit homeless children living in tunnels and under archways, offering them food, blankets and emotional support.
She was particularly astute at finding voices inside the family justice system which were going unheard, and ensuring they were amplified by her charity, and when we could help, sites like Researching Reform.
Maggie advocated tirelessly to ensure that parents could remain in contact with their children wherever possible when going through the courts and she fought hard for grandparents to have the right to contact with their grandchildren during separation, divorce and care placements.
This extract from her charity’s blog offers an insight into Maggie’s life, and humanitarian efforts: most of which were unpaid. The 2014 blog post was written by Maggie:
“Aged 19 I toured the world as a singer in stage productions. At the same time I experienced the suffering of children in many countries and this was the start of wanting to do some thing positive to help people and children.
In 1970, after my last world tour, I resigned from showbiz to marry and one year later my only child was born.
In 1972, I was voted Miss Islington with at the same time joining the Gaytones and organising at the Islington Town Hall (Old Time Music Hall Shows) for the elderly. I also assisted Councillor Barnard of Islington Council on meetings in Parliament.
Then I met Paddy O’Conner who offered housing for prisoners’ wives and families. In 1973 I helped to organise a help line for families of prisoners and in 1975 with the support of Roy Friedman, a lawyer in Welbeck Street, London, and his wife Denise Friedman a Barrister I became the founder of a charity for prisoners wives and families with financial funding from the Home Office (Mr Evens Prison Department).
I organised the first nursery to be built for prisoners’ wives to enable them to go back to work. I also brought change to the prison system, lectured in prisons, and Capital Gold brought a caravan in St Oseths so that wives and children of prisoners could have a holiday, along with an overnight hostel in Islington for women and children visiting families in London prisons. Adjacent to this I organised a hostel for women from Holloway prison. This charity is now known as PACT with Andy Keens-Down as the director.
There were times when I supported St Mungos charity working in the early hours of the mornings. We did the soup runs in central London to feed the homeless.
In 1978 I was asked to help set up hostels in Hackney for the homeless. I worked with Sammy and Eddy Iranie. The hostels accommodated up to 60 people. I was also the health visitor for children at risk once all was established, and then I moved on.
In 1980 I was asked by Dr John Reed, the Psychiatrist of F Block of the Hackney Hospital, to set up accommodation to help people from the hospital to adjust back into society and with the support of Hackney council supporting with empty council houses this all then became registered as a charity (The Vanguard Commune).
In 1981 I bought a hotel and public house In Spalding (The White Lion) and supported the very young and opened a disco twice a week. After one year I sold everything and
in 1983 bought a property in La Manga Spain and built a health centre with three houses.
This became known as La Manga health centre with private accommodation, three consulting rooms, full size tennis court, pool, with organic food grown in the grounds. The health centre was also a centre for women from the menopausal help line to have free holidays and care. I owned the health centre for 23 years and sold it in 2005/6.
Alongside the health centre, in 1984 I opened my own store in La Manga Spain known and trade marked as Ardly Arrods. I was the main fund raiser, raising many thousands of pounds for electric wheel chairs for the disabled children of Murcia with the store having a restaurant and coffee shop which was the meeting place for ex-pats. From time to time I produced shows putting on the Ritz to raise funding for elderly ex-pats.
In December 2005/6 Ardly Arrods and the Health Centre were both sold to enable me to return to the UK to be with my family, although I use to fly to London once a month.
In 1989 I bought a property which became known as Fun Tott’s Day Nursery in Muswell Hill North London, and was also the chairperson for the childminding Association. I brought change for child minding to be in the High Street and at the same time I was on the committee for the Haringey community, and also a volunteer in the evenings with the Baptist Church in Dukes Avenue, London, feeding the homeless.
From 1995 to 2003, I set up a helpline and campaigned for justice for women world wide against Hormone Replacement Therapy and in 1998 I hired the whole of the Brighton Conference Centre and organised the first conference in the world on the side effects of H.R.T.
Doctors came from all parts of the world as guest speakers with world wide media attention which led to a book being written by the best selling Author Martin Walker, which used my data base which had in excess of 11,000 women’s experiences.
I was also invited to Downing Street by Baroness Cumberlege, and in 2000 the National Health Service registered the menopausal help line as the National help line for hormone advice for England Scotland and Wales.
In 2007, due to my knowledge of alternative health I was invited to India by Doctor Leo Rebello to be guest speaker at two AIDS conferences and to study and work with the street children.
I have also worked in Cairo Egypt with Doctor Adel Badr with the street children.
In 2010 the charity (Children Screaming To Be Heard) was registered for research into why many children are being failed by the care system. The charity [was] in the process of raising funds for organising the first safe houses for the runaway children.
I [was] in touch with many Ministers and Lords, and in 2013 submitted to Earl Listowel and Sir James Munby suggestions for the new children’s and families bill still being debated in the House of Lords. Much of the research was also forwarded to many children’s ministers and Government departments.”
In 2014, Maggie continued to campaign the government to build safe houses for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. She also asked the BBC to raise a monument in memory of all those children who had lost their lives to abuse.
Researching Reform is grateful to Maggie for all the important child welfare developments she shared with us over the years and for her kindness in conferring the benefit of her vast experience on the project.
We may not have always agreed with Maggie’s point of view on various topics, but her heart was enormous and her spirit indomitable. Our thoughts are with her grandson, and extended family.
Many thanks to Andy for alerting us to Maggie’s blog post.