OBITUARY – Margaret Ashby remembered, by her friend, David Taylor

Margaret passed away peacefully in hospital on 29 January 2018, after suffering a series of strokes.  

I first met Margaret when she was talked into joining the 2003 Seletar Association visit to Singapore by a friend who accompanied her to the 2002 Annual Reunion. 

Margaret – ex-WRAF and RAF Auxilliary – had seen an advertisement for an RAF Seletar reunion but was worried about attending the event on her own.  Ex-husband, Bernie, had been stationed with the RAF at Seletar, Singapore, and she had enjoyed the camaraderie and was keen to renew contact with the RAF. 

In the end, she joined the Association, attended the event and signed up for the bi-annual Singapore return tour. Before long she was a member of the committee alongside Debbie Attoe and what a combination they made! 

I found myself spending a great deal of time in Margaret’s home town of St Ives and Margaret occasionally joined me in York although she had an aversion to the North of England having spent a few years in the Durham area in her youth. But we travelled all over the country taking in air shows, reunions or just visiting people and places. 

Margaret rarely missed our Singapore tours or the Annual Reunion. We also travelled to Australia, spent Christmas in New York and cruised to the Caribbean on the QM2 – trips that Margaret referred to as “The Big Adventure”. Good times – slightly curtailed after a serious road accident, not of her making. 

Recovery was slow and she became reluctant to drive. But the next Big Adventure proved to be right on her doorstep! We both became aircraft stewards with the Duxford Aviation Society where their Handley-Page Hermes soon became ‘Margaret’s aircraft’ and she was appointed custodian. She was so proud of the aircraft, ensured it was kept clean and in good condition and loved showing visitors around. I can still hear her greeting, “welcome to Hermes!” 

Duxford Aviation Society, the Seletar Association, local and national reunions, her chickens and garden were her main interests. There were politics too. Margaret was a staunch Conservative and even stood for St Ives Council, polling more votes than any of the other Conservative Councillors. Unfortunately, it was not a Conservative year, probably just as well for the other councillors! 

I recall many a John Major lunch or dinner we attended, and his home in the constituency was just down the road from Margaret’s house. Since 2017, politics had fallen out of favour so it was Duxford and Seletar, where she had many friends, which she supported to the end.  

Now she is off on the next Big Adventure. Rest in Peace, Margaret.