‘Vibrant’ British Empire Medal winner who helped found Priscilla Bacon Lodge dies aged 94
A former teacher who devoted her life to a wide range of good causes across the county has died at the age of 94.
Known by many close to her as ‘Rusty’ due to her red hair and maiden name of Rust, Margaret Stuart was so ingrained in all things Norfolk that she was awarded a British Empire Medal for her dedication and community spirit.
The youngest of three children, Mrs Stuart was born at home in The Mill House in Aylsham on July 12, 1926, to Ethnie and Robert Rust, a miller.
She attended Norwich High School and went on to become a teacher and included a year working in what is now Zimbabwe within her career.
She married Alan Stuart, an Irishman known as ‘Mr Mustard’ on account of his work as a seed buyer at Colmans in the 1950s and the pair went on to have two sons together, Robert, born in 1958 and James who followed the following year,
Both her sons were born at Bramerton House, where the family lived together from 1956 to 1971.
In 1976, six years after surviving a mastectomy, she moved into the heart of the very community she would serve for decades to come - The Close in Norwich, directly next to Norwich Cathedral, where she remained for 43 years.
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While living in Norwich, Mr and Mrs Stuart would spend the majority of their summers living in a holiday cottage in Morston on the north Norfolk coast, while they would also visit family in Hong Kong.
She became an active and passionate member of the Women’s Institute, serving as deputy chairman of the Norfolk branch and, living so close to the cathedral, also became a devoted member of the Friends of Norwich Cathedral.
Her youngest son, James Stuart, said: “In some respects the cathedral became her second home.”
Mrs Stuart was a relentless fundraiser, helping as many good cases as she could, including The Children’s Society, alongside the cathedral itself.
She was also involved in the founding of the Priscilla Bacon Lodge on Unthank Road in Norwich and stayed actively involved in it for 30 years, serving as chairman of the PBL Support Group for a spell.
She was awarded a 30-year service award from Norfolk Community Health and Care for her work at the lodge and, in 2013, her services to it saw her awarded the British Empire Medal.
In 2010 she also received a Civic Award for Voluntary Service in Norwich.
Mr Stuart: “Probably her number one pastime love was sailing - she owned a small Heron sailing dinghy which she used to sail daily in the summer months while living at a holiday home in Morston.
“Most of all, she just loved people. Old or young, from wherever, she adored being amidst others.
“She was very sporty and loved both tennis and horse riding and like many Norfolk women of her generation she was a supremely talented cook.”
She could also often be found at Carrow Road cheering on Norwich City alongside her two sons.
He added; “She was simply an enthusiast related to everything she did; a lively, vibrant soul who had a deeply positive impact on those who knew her well as well as those she had fleeting connections with.
“And she was always a very homely Norfolk person - despite her regular travels.”
In March 2019, she suffered a fall which resulted in her eyesight deteriorating, leading to her moving into Thomas Tawell House, an assisted living development on Magpie Road in Norwich run by the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind.
It was there she died peacefully on Wednesday, September 2.
A funeral for her was held at Norwich Cathedral on Friday, September 25.
She leaves two sons, Robert, 62 and James, 60 and two grandsons, Joe, 23 and Sam 21. Her husband died in 1998.