December 9 2013 Latest news:
Priest Margaret Freeman from Ormesby St. Margaret, Norfolk was the first woman to live through open heart surgery after suffering from a heart defect. Picture: Steve Parsons Copy: Emily Dennis For: EDP Sunday © EDP pics 2004 Tel: (01603) 772434
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Tributes have been paid to one of the first women priests in the country, who began her path in Great Yarmouth.
Margaret Freeman, 86, died on August 7 after a lifelong struggle with a rare heart condition called Fallot’s Tetralogy.
She had moved to Yarmouth in 1980, becoming a parish worker, a deaconess and then a deacon in 1987 - ordained at Norwich Cathedral.
Her son Martin said: “She was an inspiration for all.
“She had a miraculous life filled with obstacles that she overcame, and she was an exceptional mother.
“She will be forever greatly missed and remembered with infinite affection.”
Mrs Freeman was born on June 25, 1927.
She was not expected to live to be an adult, as a younger brother born with a similar heart condition lived to be just a few months old.
But she survived, learned to walk at the age of 14 and at 21 underwent groundbreaking heart surgery.
She developed an interest in theology and in her late twenties met a widower, Peter, who had two young children Roger and Mary.
Despite continuing health problems she wed Peter and the couple had three children - Clare, Julian and Martin.
Martin said she was one of the first women with such a condition to survive into adulthood and to survive having children.
Her husband sadly died of bowel cancer in 1975, aged just 51.
At the same time time Mrs Freeman had to cope with losing her mother to lung cancer, and the impending move of Mary with her new husband to Canada.
Roger had left home many years earlier.
She moved to Yarmouth when Martin was 13, and was able to pursue her church calling.
When he was older she moved to the parish of South Huish in South Devon, and was ordained as one of the first Anglican women priests at Plymouth Cathedral in 1994.
She returned to Ormesby in 1997, serving as a retired priest in numerous parish churches, before living in various care homes.
She died peacefully on August 7, with her children Clare and Julian by her side.
And Martin said she may have heard a Skype internet phone call between himself, Mary, Clare and Julian just before she passed away.
“It was felt that just maybe, Margaret was aware and able to hear the voices of all four children, and that she felt she could quietly go,” he said.
And he added: “She leaves a hole in the hearts of her family that can never be filled, but she also leaves a profound sense of hope for the future serving as a clear example of what life should be about.
“Determination and caring for others, but above all, love.”