Tributes to 'wonderful Suffolk character' Margaret Doe
- Credit: Janet Abbott
A woman described as a “wonderful Suffolk character” with a great sense of fun has died at the age of 82.
Margaret Doe was, in the words of her good friend, Peter Driver, “a real, pure Suffolk lady".
He said: “She was a very naturally funny person. She would always tell you something that would put a smile on your face, I would always come away from Margaret laughing.
“She and her friend, Joan Rix, were both pure country ladies, and they spoke the Suffolk dialect naturally. They used to put on ‘their two old ladies with tall stories’ act at Harvest supper gatherings in Monewdon, which most villages had until Covid. It was all puns on words and things like that.
“One was a joke where the doctor had given her a pill, and told her to take it in a recumbent posture, in a really thick, Suffolk accent. She said, 'I hint got one of them anymore!' And they’d go on about this business all the while. They'd talk to each other, and it was a natural conversation which was funny, because they really just kept telling the same joke.
“They did another act where Joan had knitted Margaret a jumper that was more holes than wool. Margaret would put it on, and said, 'Well, that’s very nice, dear!' It was just hilarious.”
Margaret (nee Parker) was Suffolk through and through. Born in Saxtead on January 5, 1939, she was the younger of two daughters, her sister Joan being three years older. Margaret’s father worked as a farm labourer, and the family were not rich, but her daughter, Janet Abbott, says her mother enjoyed “a very happy childhood”.
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“She didn’t have much in the way of toys,” Janet explains, “so her father made a wooden cart with wheels. Mum used to put her bantam [chicken] in, and push her around the garden. Sometimes, she would lay an egg.”
Margaret attended first Saxtead school and then Framlingham Modern School, now Thomas Mills. She also went to Sunday school in the local church.
Upon leaving school, she went to work in a farmhouse in Rushmere St Andrew for a Dr Robertshaw, where she kept the house and helped care for the doctor’s three children.
She left this job after two years, and found lodgings in Ipswich, and took a job as a delivery driver for Prices Bakery. This was how she met her husband, David Doe. David was working as a tree surgeon, and “always seemed to be about at the same time as mum,” remembers Janet.
The pair began courting, and David proposed. The couple married when Margaret was in her early twenties, and moved to Framlingham to live with Margaret’s mother, who was lonely after the death of Margaret’s father.
David began work delivering groceries, and the couple welcomed their first child, Wendy, in 1960. The family moved to Brandeston, and Janet arrived in 1964, completing their family. Margaret worked as a cleaner at Brandeston Hall School, cleaning there in the evenings when her two girls were in bed. She did this for 29 years.
“When we went to school, Mum and Dad had the chance to buy a paper round for £100 and they never looked back. They did the paper round for 32 years, helping people as they went along,” says Janet.
It is from delivering newspapers that many people in Brandeston and the surrounding villages have fond memories of Margaret, and she was well-known and loved in her community.
There were two older gentlemen in particular who Margaret went above and beyond to take care of.
“She had to put their socks on in the mornings, put their eye drops in, do their shopping, take them to the doctors, you name it, she did it, and didn’t ever think anything of it,” says Janet.
“She wasn’t someone who just delivered newspapers,” agrees friend Peter Driver. “She did all the things that these days carers do. She was absolutely wonderful, and the people around here absolutely loved her and David for everything they did.
“They got them an invitation to a garden party at Buckingham Palace, and Margaret absolutely loved it, getting to see the Queen. It was recognition for the sort of social services she and David were providing, not only delivering the papers, but a multitude of other things.
“I wrote a sketch of the two of them at Buckingham Palace, which Margaret found hilarious. David was also working as a scrap metal dealer at the time, and I wrote him offering to give the Duke of Edinburgh a price for Buckingham Palace railings. We used to laugh at ourselves like that.
“They were a lovely, modest, real pure Suffolk couple with no airs and graces."
David died just seven weeks before Margaret, and Peter remembers his funeral.
“He had an old truck and it always had scrap metal at the back. If you wanted a bit of metal for your garden of any description, David would get it to you. He also loved old tractors, which he had a collection of. When he died, they brought down to Hoo church on the back of a tractor and trailer. It was just typically David.”
Margaret, who died on December 12, wrote up her life story for her friends and family, just a brief story of how she grew up as a farm labourer’s daughter.
“At the end, she put ‘remember me as you knew me,’ and I think that is exactly right.”