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20 September 2013

A correspondent writes:
THE Revd Margaret Freeman, born Margaret Adams, who died on 7 August, aged 86, had been born with Fallot's tetralogy, a rare heart condition that causes general fatigue and a sharp reduction in life expectancy. In those days, the patient was often just left to see how he or she would fare with minimal intervention.

Margaret learned to walk at the age of 14, but, even then, her prognosis was dismal. In 1948, she had a ground-breaking procedure, performed by the eminent cardiologist Lord Brock. It was high-risk, and Margaret needed a strong faith in God and in her surgical team.

She defied all the odds, and went on to develop an interest in theology, studying at King's College, London. She was often unwell, with regular bouts of angina and fatigue. In her late twenties, she met a widower, Peter, who had two young children, Roger and Mary. Margaret and Peter went on to marry, and Margaret - incredibly - had three children. She was one of the first women with such a condition both to survive into adulthood and to survive giving birth.

In 1975, when Peter died of cancer, leaving her still with young children, Margaret also had to cope with losing her mother to lung cancer, and the impending move of her stepdaughter Mary, with her new husband, to Canada. Over the next few years, Margaret had frequent episodes of tachycardia, and had to undergo further open-heart surgery in 1977. Thereafter, although she was still limited in what she could do, her life substantially improved.

After her older children had left home, Margaret moved, in February 1980, with her 13-year-old younger son, Martin, to a new life in Great Yarmouth. She had put her religious studies and ambitions on hold while she had her family, but now she pursued a career in the Church. She was to be a parish worker in Great Yarmouth; in 1982, she became a deaconess; in 1987, was made deacon in Norwich Cathedral, one of the first women to be made deacon in the Church of England.

After Martin's marriage, Margaret moved to South Huish, in Devon. In 1994, she became one of the first women to be ordained priest in the Church of England, and continued to serve in Devon for a few years.

In 1997, she moved to Ormesby St Margaret, a small village just north of Great Yarmouth. She was now 70. She lived in a bungalow owned by the church, and continued to minister in churches, where she was extremely popular and very highly respected. She carried out her duties until her early eighties; but, around 2008, felt that it was time to move to warden-controlled housing near her daughter Clare, a trained nurse, and later to a nursing home.

Margaret was truly inspiring. She defied countless odds, to live and to spread the good news. She always strove to see the best in people, and had compassion and the power to forgive. She will be always respected by those who knew her.

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