Cemetery ‘friend’ and community stalwart honoured with award

The Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, John Standley (grandson of Margaret Carpenter), Margaret Carpenter, and Isobel Standley (granddaughter of Margaret Carpenter) for the Winifred Fowler Award.
The Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, John Standley (grandson of Margaret Carpenter), Margaret Carpenter, and Isobel Standley (granddaughter of Margaret Carpenter) for the Winifred Fowler Award.

A woman who has worked tirelessly as a Friend of Bedford Cemetery has been honoured with an award.

This year’s Winifred Fowler Award has been awarded to Margaret Carpenter in recognition of her community work.

Margaret Carpenter was, for many years, a lone ‘Friend’ of Bedford Cemetery cleaning memorials, tending graves and providing a point of contact for relatives of those buried in the cemetery.

Margaret has researched cemetery records and provided information to relatives as well as meeting visitors from as far afield as Australia and directing them to the grave of their forebears. She is glad that she now has a fine team of Friends helping her with this work.

Margaret is currently the treasurer of the Friends of Bedford Cemetery as well as being their first point-of-contact on their website. She is a member of Beds Archaeological Council, BAALHS, and is their treasurer. She also does volunteering work with the Bedfordshire Police, particularly Neighbourhood Watch and at police stations - Greyfriars and Riseley. She regularly attends crime prevention days, manning the stall throughout, as well as assisting and undertaking cycle marking. She is also a Community Street Champion.

At her own expense, she helped organise the street party with a neighbour for the Jubilee in 2012, and she prepares cakes and biscuits for charity fundraisers for Marie Curie, Eve Appeal and ovarian cancer charities.

Mayor Dave Hodgson, said: “The judging panel was full of admiration for her commitment to her unpaid and time-consuming good work within the community. It is thanks to her that so many charities, organisations and groups are able to thrive, she is a tremendous force and we are delighted to give her this well-deserved recognition.”

The Bedford Swan Hotel also supported the award and provided a meal for two in their River Room Restaurant to the winner.

The Winifred Fowler Award is in memory of the late Winifred Fowler, the first female Mayor of Bedford (1971 – 72) and recognises the men and women, regardless of age or background, who selflessly give back to the borough.

Winifred Mary Fowler 1914 - 2001

Winifred Mary Fowler was born on May 7, 1914 in Queen’s Park, Bedford, the youngest of 12 children. She was educated at Queen’s Park School and later Bedford Girls Modern School until she left aged 14.

Winifred went on to work at Bedford Post Office as a counter clerk and telegraphist.

She married Ronald Fowler in 1937 and moved to Luton, where they had four children, but the family returned to Biddenham in 1961, when Winifred’s political career took off.

She was elected to Bedford Borough Council to represent Queen’s Park Ward in 1966 and appointed by Mayor Ron Whittingham as his Deputy in 1970.

In 1971, the Council took the historic decision to appoint Winifred as its first lady mayor, a position she held for a year.

In 1973, she was elected to the County Council for Castle Ward, whom she represented, until she retired in 1981. However, she maintained membership of many committees into her eighties, always at meetings and maintaining an active life.

Winifred died following a short illness in 2001.