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Maggi Walton, 1951-2019

25 September 2019

Maggi Walton, Library Support Assistant in Library Customer Services, died in July. This remembrance comes from Maggi’s daughter Sasha, Pauline Heslop, Rob Hannah and Jane Reynolds.

Maggi Walton was born in Carntyne, Glasgow in 1951 to her mother Ness and father George Waters. She had a happy childhood in Glasgow with parents and brother Ian and their menagerie of pets. Each year they would take holidays on the Ayrshire coast, and she had a wide spread of cousins to spend her time with. She left school at 16, and by her early 20s she was working as a legal secretary in Glasgow. Around the age of 23 she saw an advert in a newspaper for a job as a dolphin trainer (!) at Blair Drummond Safari Park and applied immediately. Despite much competition for this coveted role, she was successful in her application, and started soon after. Maggi loved her time training the dolphins and learning new skills, and these creatures would remain one of her favourites throughout her life.

By the age of 30, Maggi had moved down to London, where she would spend the next decade. Her most notable job was as a financial secretary for Citibank, which she greeted with great enthusiasm, and was able to make many wonderful memories during her time there. This wasn’t all, however – Maggi also had a second job in the evening, working as front of house at the London theatres, giving her time to socialise after work, and meet some eclectic characters along the way. Around 1984, Maggi met her future husband Bernard, and they enjoyed many years dividing their time between London and Bristol – where he was already based. In 1991, Maggi moved down to Bristol, pregnant with her daughter Sasha. Maggi and Sasha shared an incredibly close bond, and for Sasha, her mother truly embodied the spirit of unconditional love and great friendship. 

Maggi joined the newly formed Norah Fry Research Centre in 1992. Led by Oliver Russell, the centre pioneered new ways of working with people with learning disabilities, and Maggi was right at the heart of that work. She worked as a centre administrator at a time when note taking was done in shorthand, at which she was an expert; she typed from endless audio tapes, and above all she welcomed and communicated with people with learning disabilities. From the start, they were a part of our centre, as can be seen from photos of Maggi at our 10th anniversary in 1998, which she helped to organise. It was clear from the outset that Maggi was a 'people person' and her forte was  effectively communicating with a wide range of people. She did so with great skill, humour and warmth, whether it was persuading the porters to go ‘above and beyond’ or responding to queries on the phone.

Maggi was the Programme Administrator for the Doctorate in Educational Psychology from its inception in 2006, from the previous Master's programme. She played a big part in the Programme's success, and her qualities were very well suited to the role. Her warmth, empathy, and humour meant that she had close and supportive relationships with colleagues and deservedly earned her the adoration of students. However busy Maggi was, she always welcomed everybody and engaged fully in whatever issue that had been brought to her, typically with energy, imagination and humour. Maggi was sorely missed when her role with the Programme ended. Everybody who encountered Maggi (be it a student, colleague, or a professional visitor to the Programme) remembers those encounters with great fondness and appreciation.

In the book of memories when Maggi left Norah Fry in 2011 are those of afternoon tea and cake (Maggi was a great fan); bad parking (in others of course); her fashion sense (fabulous); humming whilst she worked (the less said about that the better!); her air of subversion and mischief; her ability to identify resources where there apparently were none; and her unfailing good humour and supportive nature. As someone said, ‘we struck lucky’ when Maggi worked with us at Norah Fry and she will always remain in our hearts and memories; she was unique, very much loved and irreplaceable.

Maggi later joined Library Services, based at the Arts and Social Sciences Library where she worked until this year as part of the Library Support Assistant team. Her role involved providing services and support to students and others using the library across the evening until midnight and she carried this out with the perfect balance of professionalism, good humour and warmth. Maggi was always a key presence during these evening shifts, providing reassuring guidance for anyone seeking assistance, lending a friendly ear to stressed students, and artfully managing the behaviour of those taking a less studious approach to their use of the building!

Maggi had a natural ability to connect with people whether students or colleagues and was caring, supportive, generous and hardworking. There was always laughter when Maggi was on shift; she always had a kind and caring word for everyone and was keen to ask after those who were facing difficulties, even when she had her own challenges to face. Maggi will be remembered for her dry, cutting humour and mischievous irreverence, her strong will, and her warmth and care for everyone that she worked with. We are richer for having had the privilege of working with Maggi and will always remember her with great fondness.

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