Margaret is our top senior

Wendy Gibson, Louise Russell, Margaret Griffith, Deidre Reynolds and Sue Van Maaseyk at their weekly garden meeting. 173615

By Justin Flynn

A Barwon Heads woman has won the 2017 Victorian Senior of the Year award.
Margaret Griffith received her award on 10 October at a ceremony at Government House in Melbourne.
A passionate environmentalist and social justice advocate, Margaret said she was initially shocked at the news.
“Initially I felt very surprised and thought ‘why me, it could have been anybody’,” she said.
“But then I thought that it’s a very important recognition for the local community, not just for me.”
Margaret is chairwoman of the Bellarine for Refugees group and Barwon Estuary Project and has been heavily involved in social justice and environmentalism most of her life.
“We support asylum seekers in a number of ways by talking to politicians, going to public events and hosting them at social activities,” she said.
“They tend not to venture down here so we like to bring them down here to show them the beauty of our area.”
Margaret and a group of like-minded friends meet weekly at her house to plant vegetables and flowers, tend to the garden and generally support each other.
“Once you’re retired you have to deliberately cultivate a feeling of community, because you tend to get cut off quite easily,” she said.
“We celebrate each other’s birthdays, we look after each other when we are sick and look after each other’s houses when we go away. When we get a glut of tomatoes, we’ll all get together and make sauce. We do it together, which makes it more fun and not a chore.”
Margaret spent her working life as an adult educator, teaching English to newcomers and then was manager of public programs at Melbourne Museum for 17 years.
She has been in the area for 14 years.
“As a comparative newcomer, it’s helped us to become embedded into what is already an involved and vibrant community,” she said.