Tributes paid to ‘dignified lady’ Maggi Downes

Margaret (Maggi) Downes
Margaret (Maggi) Downes

The husband of a former district councillor for Pulborough has paid tribute to his ‘best friend’ following her death.

Margaret (Maggi) Downes passed away on Sunday, March 11, at the age of 72 after a long battle with cancer.

As a former air traffic controller and proprietor of the MBC Stationary Shop, in Pulborough, Maggi served as a JP for fifteen years before becoming a local councillor for Pulborough in 1999.

Her husband of 46 years Rory Downes described her as a ‘kind and caring’ person.

He said: “Last Thursday a church service was held to commemorate the life of Maggi – a naturally friendly person and someone with whom people felt immediately at ease. The church was packed and it was a wonderful send off for her.”

Born in Cheltenham in 1946, Maggi had to leave school aged 16 soon after her father’s death. Whilst at work, she qualified at night school as a technical author and at the age of 19 became part of the design team working on the first nuclear submarine for the Royal Navy. In 1968 she joined the Royal Air Force as an air traffic controller in Norfolk, where she met her husband Rory – a pilot.

Rory and Maggi married in 1972 shortly before moving to Pulborough where they lived for a couple of years before settling in West Chiltington.

Together, they had a son – Martin – now an architect and currently living near Brighton.

Rory added: “During our first few years in Sussex, Maggi stayed at home and brought up Martin and it was around this time she set up her business which extended her connection with Pulborough.”

Maggi became well known in the village through her role as the proprietor of the MBC Stationary Shop, in Lower Street, Pulborough, and as a member of Horsham District Council serving as a councillor for Pulborough until she retired in 2004.

After her retirement, she spent many years volunteering – specifically for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Volunteer Visitor Service – she was made Lady Captain at West Sussex Golf Club in 2013.

This was around the time Maggi started her battle with melanoma.

Rory added: “She was such an impressive and dignified lady and even when she was battling a pretty awful illness, she continued to show immense courage remaining cheerful and indomitable to the end. She continued to be supportive and sympathetic to others with never a complaint about her own illness. She was such a naturally likeable person.”

Maggi’s funeral was held last Thursday and was led by the Rev. David Coleman.