Margaret Campbell: Leading light in bowling mourned across Portstewart and Portrush
MARGARET Campbell was gifted with many talents which shone through in her personality and in the dedication, commitment and enthusiasm she brought to all her endeavours.
Her passing has been mourned by all sections of the community both in Portstewart, where she and her husband John lived for many years, and in Portrush where she was born and grew up.
I had the privilege of knowing her from our primary school days in Portrush. We were in the same class at St Patrick’s Primary School in Causeway Street and looking back, which I often do, I can recognise those qualities of nature and grace that made her stand out from the crowd and which she carried with her into adult life.
She was lively and exuberant, popular with teachers and pupils alike.
Over the years we had many conversations about how good it was to be growing up in Portrush in the late 1940s and ’50s. It was the best of times, we agreed, and I still have great memories of those happy days.
Margaret was someone who was always willing to lend a helping hand, so when it was decided that Star of the Sea in Portstewart should have its own parish magazine, she readily agreed to be part of a small team given the responsibility of compiling and editing The Stella Maris, as it was named.
It was a task she relished and gladly undertook for a good many years while at the same time contributing articles to many of its editions, most of them shining a light on aspects of local and church history.
At a later stage, to mark the centenary of Star of the Sea Church – it was founded in 1916 – she was also involved in the research, writing and editing of a book to celebrate the milestone and here again she was generous with her time and input. It is fitting that her work both for the magazine and the book is now preserved in the parish archives.
Another example of her generosity of spirit and helpfulness was when I was carrying out research for my book Golden Strands about the seaside history of Portrush.
She very kindly let me have some old photographs and postcards from her collection to illustrate various passages.
Margaret was a leading light – and a tough competitor – in both indoor and outdoor bowling circles, excelling particularly in pairs bowling.
With her playing partner Bernie O’Neill, she won the Provincial Ladies Pairs title no fewer than five times between 2004 and 2011 as well as the British Isles Ladies Pairs title in 2005.
They were runners-up in the Irish Pairs Championship in 2010 and 2011.
Her love of bowling was very likely inherited from her father, John McNally, who was not only a noted bowler but also an outstanding hockey player, turning out for the Portrush senior team for many years in league and cup matches.
Gardening was another of her abiding interests and she derived much pleasure from her impressive garden at the back of her Lever Road home in Portstewart.
In a famous quote, Francis Bacon wrote: “God Almighty first planted a garden: and indeed it is the purest of human pleasures.” She would certainly have agreed with that.
Margaret had a strong faith – lightly carried – and it came from her deeply grounded character.
In her final years when she struggled with health problems it gave her strength to endure suffering with much grace and patience.
She died on August 30. Predeceased by her husband in 2013, she will be sadly missed by all the people whose lives she touched in one way or another and especially, of course, by her children Ursula, Colette, Claire and Philip.
Rest in peace Margaret.