MARGOT Craig, a determined champion of developing community groups in Woking borough, has died at the age of 90.

Through Margot’s efforts, the Chinese Association of Woking was founded in 1987 to help families celebrate their Chinese origins and for children to learn to speak and read Cantonese. 

The Chinese Association has gone on to achieve great academic successes and is a well-loved part of Woking’s multicultural family.  Chinese New Year celebrations in Jubilee Square feature dancing and a dragon, and are greatly enjoyed every year.

Hilary Adler, a former colleague of Margot in the Woking Association of Voluntary Service (WAVS), recalled their time together during the 1980s.

“Margot, Tanya Shah and I were employed by WAVS in 1986 with government funding obtained by Woking Community Relations Forum,” Hilary said. 

“I was charged with developing the volunteer Home Tutor Service into a scheme to provide English tuition to women from [mainly] South Asian communities who were unable to access traditional classes because of childcare responsibilities or lack of previous education. 

“Tanya Shah looked at other aspects of the South Asian communities, identifying needs and developing community services. 

“Margot was given a broader mission to identify different ethnic community groups and support them in their development.  That was when the Chinese Association of Woking started.

“Margot also supported the Spanish Association, which provided Spanish classes for children and Galician dance classes, and put on many spectacular displays in striking red and black costumes accompanied by traditional Galician bagpipes.

“She played a part in setting up the One World Week [OWW] celebrations where people of different cultures shared their food and culture. I remember that at the first OWW party 56 different flags were paraded.

“There were many other cultural groups supported by Margot.  It was recognised that celebration of different cultures was an important part of integration into and acceptance by the host community and, I believe, helped many statutory services in Woking question whether they were accessible to everyone in the community.

“I remember, when describing our work to someone from another part of Surrey, the response was, ‘We don’t have that problem in our area’, to which I replied, ‘We don’t have a problem in Woking, either’.”

Margot also served on Woking Borough Council from 1990 to 1998 as a Liberal Democrat,  representing Horsell West, the ward  in which she lived.

She sat on a number of committees, including the Planning and Environment Committee, Policy and Resources Committee, and Arts, Leisure and Tourism Committee.

Born in Hull in 1933, Margot was the second of two daughters of a trawler skipper, Christian Agerskow, a descendant of a Danish immigrant to Hull in the 1860s.

She did well at school and at Leeds University, and it was commuting to work in York from Hull that she met her husband, John Craig.

After getting married, they went to Kenya, as John had got a job for the Kenyan government, so they were there at the time Kenya became independent. 

Returning to Hull, John became an economics lecturer at Hull University before they and sons Andrew, Matthew, John and Peter moved to Woking in 1970, John having taken a job as a civil servant in the Office of Population, Censuses and Surveys (OPCS). 

John worked there until he retired, and pre-deceased Margot in 2020.

To Hilary, the heartfelt final word. “Margot played a significant part in creating and maintaining harmony in Woking among people of different heritages and, in that respect, she leaves an important legacy,” Hilary said. 

“She was a good soul and I shall miss her.”