ADDING her name to a distinguished list of community heroes this year is a Ripley lady with a heart of gold.
Margaret Butler of Woodside Avenue may be 85, but that does not stop her carrying out her volunteering duties at a town nursery school.
The grandmother has been helping out at the Sandham Lane Nursery for the past six years and is loved by its staff and pupils alike.
Ripley town councillors chose Margaret for the award, which honours a local person who has made an outstanding contribution to their community each year, for her everlasting enthusiasm when it comes to caring for kids.
And as well as accepting a certificate on behalf of the parish authority, grandmother Margaret had the pleasure of switching on the town’s Christmas lights last week, with many of the staff and children from the nursery school watching on.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard I had been awarded,” Margaret said: “It was a really nice surprise. I never expected anything like that.”
Maragaret joins a host of heroes who have picked up the award since it was launched by the council more than a decade ago.
Last year, Long serving British Legion member Bill Hutchinson was honoured for his dedication to numerous causes over his lifetime. The Ripley man has been a prolific poppy seller for the Royal British Legion and collected all the names of service men and women from Ripley killed in conflicts since the Second World War to feature on the town’s memorial.
Margaret is humble about her nursery work, in which she helps out with a variety of tasks from reading stories to dishing out lunches three days every week.
She joined the school after her husband died aged 81. Joseph Butler had suffered a long battle with liver cancer.
The former waitress at Hurst’s Restaurant, which used to sit on Oxford Street, said she needed to stay active after the tragedy and helping out at the nursery was the ideal choice.
She said: “I have always loved children. When I lost my husband, people said to me, what are you going to do now Margaret?”
“I said I’m going where I know I can be happy. I didn’t think the headmistress would take me in but she did. I was so pleased.”
Last week Margaret was joined by Ripley’s Mayor Michael Missett in turning on the town’s Christmas lights.
He said: “I’m very pleased that she’s got the award for all her hard work at the nursery school.
“She’s been a very active figure and the kids love her.
“It’s important that those who work tirelessly for the people of Ripley are recognised for their volunteer work.
The town council hopes to continue this recognition. In some ways it’s a little thank you from the town.”