Work by Ann Williams :: Poem by Gerda Stevenson
All It Takes
Margaret Blackwood MBE, born Dundee, 1924, died Edinburgh, 1994; campaigner for disabled people’s rights; her lobbying, inspired by Megan du Boisson, resulted in the 1970 Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, leading to the introduction of benefits such as mobility and attendance allowances.
From Quines by Gerda Stevenson
As soon as I saw the list of famous ‘Women of Scotland’ I knew immediately which poem I would like to be allocated. I had known Doctor Margaret McGrath née Blackwood both as a friend and as a physiotherapy patient for the last quarter of her life when she lived in Edinburgh. Always upbeat and determined, she faced life with all its physical difficulties stoically.
After reading Gerda’s poem, the image of a three-tier lampshade came to mind to chronicle the various stages of her amazing life with all its ups and downs, her difficult younger years when she felt abandoned, when nothing she tried to accomplish went right, to later when she tackled the lack of disability benefits for her fellow sufferers.
DIG (Disabled Income Group) was established in 1966. Her march on wheels along Princes Street and her address to a rally in Trafalgar Square were inspired and resulted in a change in the law in 1970.
She organised The Magpie Charity Shop in Tollcross to raise funds and after receiving a generous donation, Margaret established and oversaw the setting-up of The Margaret Blackwood Housing Association, later Blackwood Housing, building adapted housing for the disabled throughout Scotland.
Awards followed, including Disabled Scot of the year 1971, an MBE in 1972, an Order of St. John and an honorary Doctorate from Aberdeen University.
Sadly, her marriage to Charles in 1978 was short-lived: he died just two weeks after their marriage.