Is this Britain’s longest-serving volunteer? Widow, 98, has been serving Christmas dinner to homeless people for 82 YEARS
- Peggy Maskrey was 16 years old when she started volunteering in Birkenhead
- This year she was serving Christmas turkey at Charles Thompson’s Mission
- Mrs Maskrey was working during WWII, the moon landing and a World Cup win
Peggy Maskrey, now 98, was 16 when she started helping out at Charles Thompson’s Mission in Birkenhead, in Merseyside, in 1928
A widow has been serving Christmas dinner to the homeless every year for the last 82 years, potentially making her Britain’s longest-serving volunteer.
Peggy Maskrey, now 98, was aged 16 when she started helping out at Charles Thompson’s Mission in Birkenhead, in Merseyside, in 1928.
She met her late husband Teddy there and has been working during WWII, a moon landing, a World Cup win and through 16 different Prime Ministers.
In February this year Prince Charles handed her an MBE at Buckingham Palace, for her ‘selfless services to the people of Birkenhead’.
She is still volunteering twice-weekly and was in on Christmas Day serving the festive turkey dinner today.
The widow and mother-of-one said: ‘I absolutely love it here, helping those who need it.
‘I’ve seen a lot of changes; it’s very much a home-from-home for me.
‘Christmas is the time when I am needed the most. It’s great being part of a team that helps to make at least some difference to people’s lives.
‘Over the years I’ve seen young boys coming and then returning as grown men to help out.
‘I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. And I still enjoy it. I’m here two days every week and I love it.
In February this year Prince Charles handed her an MBE at Buckingham Palace, for her ‘selfless services to the people of Birkenhead’
‘I used to come here every day and I wish I still could – but while the spirit is willing my body is weaker!
‘I’d be broken-hearted if I ever had to stop coming here altogether and helping out because it’s been my life.
‘I just love helping people and seeing how they appreciate it – well, some of them appreciate it!’
Mrs Maskrey said it is important the mission helps everyone in society, which is what makes it special.
She added: ‘The important thing is they need help and we want to make sure they get it.
‘I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. And I still enjoy it. I’m here two days every week and I love it,’ Mrs Maskrey said
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Mrs Maskrey first arrived at the Charles Thompson’s Mission in Merseyside in 1928 (undated photograph)
‘We accept anyone who comes through that door. If we have clothes or food, we will give it to them.
‘I’ve always made the tea over the years and I’ll always be here – they’ll have to carry me out!’
Born Marjorie Monaghan in 1920, she was nicknamed ‘Peggy’ aged two by her uncle – and the name stuck.
Looking back she reflected: ‘I started coming to all the children’s meetings from the age of eight and there would be about 500 kids turning up.
‘Every time we came at Christmas we would queue up and be given a bun, a toy and a bag of fruit and sweets.
‘Years later I met my husband Teddy at the mission and we started courting.
‘We married in 1944 but I still kept on helping out here. They were happy times.’
The widow and mother-of-one said: ‘I absolutely love it here, helping those who need it’
The mission was founded by Christian worker Charles Thompson in 1892 and local businessmen gave donations to help needy families.
His death in 1903 prompted Queen Alexander – wife to King Edward VII – to write from Buckingham Palace of her ‘sadness at the death of a man who had done so much for others.’
His daughter Annie took over and she was also awarded the MBE in 1953 and died in 1965.
Peggy retired from her 9-5 waitress job aged 70 but before then would would work a full day then spend her hours afterwards helping out at the mission – especially after losing husband Teddy and son David, who died 10 years ago aged 55.
Mission manager Bernie Frost, who first got involved 13 years ago as a volunteer, said: ‘Peggy doesn’t realise she makes an enormous contribution.
‘She is faithful and steadfast – and she’s not to be messed with.
‘This Mission has been operating here for 126 years and Peggy has been such a big part of its history.’
Providing food, furniture, clothes, healthcare, counselling services and even toys, the mission helps people living below the breadline.
Fellow volunteer Amy Stanley said: ‘Over the years Peggy’s changed the lives of so many.
‘She inspires us every single day and still has no plans to retire.’
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