Margaret’s Backyard Blitz story
2 MIN READ
This year’s Great Bank of Ireland Backyard Blitz in support of Age Action, takes place on 22 and 23 June and will see hundreds of Bank of Ireland volunteers, in Dublin, Cork and Galway, tidying up the gardens of older people in local communities. We caught up with Margaret, who had her garden ‘blitzed’ last year, to hear her story.
Baptised, married and bought the house all in the same parish
Margaret Roper, who tells me she is 77 and 3/4, has been in the house in East Wall she bought with her late husband Tom in 1973. She was born in North Strand off Annesley Bridge and Tom was born nearby off Newcombe Bridge. ‘I only went up the road to get him,’ she says. She was baptised, married and bought the house all in the same parish.
Too young to be a grandmother
The couple had three children. Two girls and a boy but, sadly, one of their girls died, when she was only in her twenties, from cancer. She has no grandchildren, ‘I’m too young to be a grandmother yet,’ she protests, when I ask.
Tom’s battle with Parkinson’s disease
Tom was a painter and decorator who never stopped working even when he came home where he would maintain and decorate the house. ‘When he retired he was even worse,’ Margaret says. ‘He never stopped night and day.’
Tom passed away three years ago after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and Margaret admits that she often feels ‘snookered when I can’t get things done’ now.
The floods of 2002
‘We were both born on the same day, October 16th,’ Margaret says, ‘although we were a few years apart in age.’ Parkinson’s was particular tough for Tom who could no longer be as active as he once was and couldn’t maintain the home to his own high standards.
Margaret and Tom’s house was one of many in East Wall to be flooded back on a Friday afternoon in February, 2002, a time that Margaret remembers only too well.
‘They came in boats to fetch us’
‘Every house around here was affected. We couldn’t get downstairs because the water was up the walls past the skirting boards. They came in boats to fetch us and they came for Tom first because he just had the start of Parkinson’s. Well, he wouldn’t budge. He was upstairs in the bedroom and he said ‘we’ll be alright, we’ll manage’.
They said they’d come back in the boat if he got panicky. That man was never panicky!’
Veg on the right, flowers on the left
The two of them did the gardening together but the back garden was strictly divided in two between the couple. Tom had the right-hand side where he grew fruit and vegetables. Margaret had the left-hand side where she grew flowers.
Margaret admits that when Tom wasn’t around she sometimes used to sneak over the right-hand side and plant flowers. ‘When Tom came home and saw fresh soil he’d say, ‘I see the land-grabber has been at it again’!’
The Backyard Blitz
Although Margaret loves the garden and wants to look after the plants herself she finds it hard. Last year, three volunteers turned up from Bank of Ireland, as part of the Backyard Blitz, when Margaret’s hip was very bad (she has since had a hip replacement).
‘They were ever so nice. They went at the garden and worked like hell’ she says. ‘They said they enjoyed it even though they looked knackered when they’d finished!’
Find out more
To find out more about the great work that our charity partner, Age Action, does in local communities, click here.