Farewell to a former mayor

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A former mayor, councillor and school dentist has died aged 94.

Margaret Alexandra Armstrong, known as Alex, moved to Biggleswade in the 1950s and soon became an intrinsic member of the community. She passed away on Saturday, October 13.

The daughter of James and Amelia Macdonald, she was born near Liverpool in September 1918. Alex was named after her brother, Alexander, who was killed in the opening minutes of the Battle of the Somme.

She trained in dentistry and treated children in London’s Harley Street.

Alex married her childhood neighbour, Tom Armstrong.

Their son, Alexander, said: “They married in the early fifties and set up life together in a house Tom had built in Kitelands Road in Biggleswade.

“After two years their first son, also named Tom, was born in 1954, with the second child Alexander born in 1959.

“Alex may have envisaged a domestic life free of work and dentistry but when taking her eldest son to nursery school for the first time her dental qualifications were quickly discovered and she was asked to fill in for a few weeks as they were desperately short of a school dental officer.

“She filled in for nearly 30 years in a career that saw her treating three generations of Biggleswade’s school children with longstanding colleague and friend Mrs Styles at the Lawnside surgery in The Baulk.”

The elder Tom Armstrong had a keen interest in politics and represented Biggleswade on Bedfordshire County Council for several terms.

In 1973 he had a heart attack and was in ill health until his death in 1978.

He had encouraged Alex to enter politics, initially as a Mid Bedfordshire district councillor in the 1970s. She later served on Biggleswade Town Council and Bedfordshire County Council as well. She also had a stint as Biggleswade’s mayor.

Alex was a governor for several Biggleswade schools and had a particular interest in Hitchmead School.

She was the founding president of the Biggleswade Ladies Circle and of the Ivel Townswomen’s Guild, for which she took her turn as chairman. She was also chair of the University of the Third Age for several years.

Alex was a member of the Biggleswade Sea Cadets wardroom and committee and a committee member for Sight Concern. She was a good friend of former mayors, Peter Vickers and Pat Rouse.

Alex moved to Kent to be with her family two years ago. She leaves behind her two sons, three grandsons and two step granddaughters.

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