Girlguiding MBE: Littlehampton woman who was made an MBE for services to Girlguiding dies days before 97th birthday

A Littlehampton woman who dedicated her life to Girlguiding and the church has passed away at the age of 96, just a week before her 97th birthday.

Mrs Margaret Baker was made an MBE in the 2012 New Year Honours in recognition of her service to Girlguiding over 80 years.

Daughter-in-law Alison Baker said Margaret did more than people realised, including single-handedly raising £10,000 towards the building of Littlehampton Girlguiding Centre, in Duke Street.

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Margaret was also well known for the work she did at St James’ Church as a Sunday school teacher and in the Mothers’ Union, where she was presented with a long-service award for 67 years as a member on July 1, 2020.

Margaret Baker was awarded an MBE for her services to Girlguiding in Littlehampton

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She had been encouraged to join the church group by her mother-in-law and was enrolled by Father F.C. Walden-Aspy in December 1953. She served as secretary for the Littlehampton branch and treasurer for the Arundel and Bognor Deanery.

Margaret was born in Barnham and joined the Girlguiding movement as a Brownie at the age of seven.

Stuart Baker, her only child, said: “She was a few months under age but they were just starting it up, so she was allowed to join. From when she first joined the Brownies, the bug must have got her.”

Margaret Baker with her MBE

Margaret was married to James Baker, a refrigeration engineer, on April 20, 1946. After they moved to Littlehampton, Father Walden-Aspy asked her to form a Brownies group at St James’ Church and she officially started it on April 27, 1954, with 15 girls.

Over the years, Margaret took Girl Guides camping and kayaking, and organised holidays to Guernsey and Switzerland.

Stuart said: “She wasn’t one for sitting around. Hers was the only group in Littlehampton that had a waiting list of girls to join. She has kept in touch with many of the Guides.”

Margaret remained a leader until July 27, 1971, and then became involved with the Trefoil Guild, a branch of Girlguiding. She was county chairman and served as county president for five years.

Margaret was also involved with the Scout & Guide Fellowship and in January last year, she received the Chief Scout’s 25-year service award from Arundel and Littlehampton District Scouts.

For the MBE award ceremony in March 2012, Margaret travelled to Buckingham Palace with Stuart and Alison and told the Gazette at the time the experience was ‘unforgettable’.

Margaret’s most treasured moment with the Guides was during the Queen’s silver jubilee celebrations in 1977, when every train travelling to Brighton was a sea of blue as Guides made their way to Withdean Stadium.

Margaret was well known for her marmalade, which she sold to raise money for the church and Guides. Other hobbies included flower arranging and Margaret was a member of Littlehampton Flower Club.

In 2015, Margaret received an individual achievement award from Littlehampton Town Council for her outstanding contribution to making the town a better place.

Margaret died at St Josephs Nursing Home in Littlehampton on Tuesday, January 11, and would have been 97 on Thursday, January 20.

There will be a funeral service at St James’ Church, in East Ham Road, on Tuesday, February 8, at 2pm, followed by a service at Worthing Crematorium at 3.30pm. People who are unable to make the funeral are invited to visit St James’ from 10.30am onwards to pay their respects.

It is hoped there will be a guard of honour of Girl Guides after the church service.