Margaret Gallagher

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MARGARET Gallagher, who has died aged 84, was actively involved in the Ecumenical movement in Normanton where her husband, Dr John Gallagher, was in general practice.

Additionally, her support for the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem which helps to maintain the Christian presence in the Holy Land through prayer and financial contributions led to her name being put forward as a candidate for investiture as a Dame of the Holy Sepulchre.

After approval from Rome, she was invested in 2003, in Southwark Cathedral by Archbishop Bowen. Dr Gallagher was invested as a Knight in 1993.

Mrs Gallagher, fourth child in a family of two brothers and three sisters whose father was an iron moulder was born in Carluke in Lanarkshire, some 20 miles south east of Glasgow.

At Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell she was admired at a distance by John – the year below her – who decided, aged 12, that there could be no other.

She left school to work in the Post Office at Wishaw, not far from Carluke. When John was 17 he went to Glasgow Medical School to study medicine. He was 18 when he first broke the news to her that he had loved her since he was 12.

They became engaged in 1950, but he was called up for National Service, and joined the RAF as a medical officer and served in Malaya for almost two years.

The couple eventually married in 1954, having been engaged for four years.

Unable to find a practice to join in Scotland, Dr Gallagher located one in Normanton, and after his interview, was taken on as a partner. The couple moved to the town in July 1954 and there Mrs Gallagher raised six children.

She and her husband became actively involved in the Council of Christian Congregations – now known as Churches Together – and for over 20 years the group met in their home. At their parish church, St John the Baptist, Mrs Gallagher was enrolled on the roster of readers.

The couple’s interest in the Holy Land dates from 1987 when they joined a pilgrimage there from Bradford. They were amazed and appalled by the plight of the Palestinians whose movements were – and continue to be – severely restricted by the Israeli authorities.

Following their return, Dr Gallagher came across the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and the couple became supporters of its work, and have been back to the Holy Land for another three pilgrimages.

Mrs Gallagher is survived by her husband and their children Margaret, John, Anne-Marie, Damian and Clare, and by 10 grandchildren. Their fourth child, Christopher, died in an accident in 2000.

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