A compassionate and formidable woman - Margaret Chadd remembered

Margaret Chadd. Picture: James Bass

Margaret Chadd. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Margaret Chadd spent her life caring for others.

Margaret Chadd. Picture: James Bass

Margaret Chadd. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

From tending to Battle of Britain pilots during the Second World War to helping establish the East Coast Hospice in 2007 - she was constantly working to help those in need.

The Southwold stalwart died peacefully at her home in July, aged 96, having lived a life dedicated to helping all she could.

When war broke in 1939, Mrs Chadd trained as an assistant almoner at The Princess Beatrice Hospital in London before becoming Lady Almoner at the Queen Victoria Hospital's Plastic Surgery and Burn Unit in 1941.

During this time she aided the rehabilitation of Battle of Britain pilots and civilian bomb casualties as they struggled to come to term with their life-changing injuries.

Margaret Chadd. Picture: James Bass

Margaret Chadd. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

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Her son Jonathan said: 'These patients had often lost everything; she obtained clothing coupons for them, helped with their finances and with finding jobs.'

When a bomb hit East Grinstead cinema in 1943 she worked non-stop for 48 hours identifying the dead, caring for the injured and dealing the with the emotional trauma that followed.

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In 1949 she met Col George Chadd who had recently left the army following stints in North Africa and Italy.

The pair fell in love and married the next year enjoying a successful marriage of 47 years until George's death in 1997.

They had four sons together, however tragedy twice struck the family.

In 1973 the couple's eldest son Christopher drowned when the yacht he was aboard sank during a storm.

Two years later their third child Timothy was killed in France when he was hit by a car while crossing the road.

It was through Compassionate Friends, an organisation for bereaved parents, that Mrs Chadd began the long healing process.

Jonathan said: 'She found that it was great help talking to mothers who had experienced the loss of a child and just to know that the feelings were not abnormal.

'Most people would have collapsed under the grief of such a double loss but she searched for some consolation, learning about the grief practice and looking for practical ways of finding some solution.'

Mrs Chadd felt there needed to be better bereavement support available so embarked on a counselling course in London arranged by Cruse Bereavement Care.

Having moved to Southwold in 1977, she intended to open a branch in the Waveney area offering services to all bereaved people.

The following year the Waveney and North Suffolk branch of Cruse was launched and for the next 20 years Mrs Chadd organised social support groups, took on more than 500 referrals a year and supported countless bereaved parents.

In 1990 Mrs Chadd was honoured for her services to the community of Suffolk and was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE).

Jonathan added: 'She was a woman of many parts; a superb organiser, a tenacious and determined campaigner and not one to suffer fools gladly.

'She was compassionate, considerate of others and always interested in people whatever their background.'

As Mrs Chadd prepared for retirement in 2001, due to her expertise she was invited to become chairman of new charity Waveney Hospice Care.

The charity aimed to provide inpatient and day-care specialist palliative care facilities for terminally ill people in the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area.

And now work is under way to build Margaret Chadd House in Gorleston – a ten bed hospice with outreach and training facilities for those facing the end of life.

Her son said: 'When complete the hospice will be named after her as a fitting memorial to a lady who championed the cause of the dying and bereaved and who herself faced the horrors of war and the premature loss of two sons and yet managed to turn those experiences into positives through her work with others.'

Mrs Chadd leaves behind two sons and five grandchildren along with numerous friends and colleagues who will mourn the passing of the formidable lady.

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