Margaret just loves to help!

Margaret Paton
Margaret Paton

Most people have done some form of volunteering or charity work in their lives.

It could be anything from helping you nephew’s football team do a bag-pack at a supermarket, a marathon or fun run or giving up some time to help the local church raise a few quid to get their leaky roof fixed.

Most of us gladly do our wee bit from time to time then go back and get on with our normal lives, but one big-hearted Laurieston woman has seen her volunteering work take over her life.

And she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Grandmother-of-four Margaret Paton is the chairperson of the Laurieston Old People’s Association and is one of the busiest community activists in the district.

The 64-year-old started helping the association 40 years ago by going round the doors of the village collecting money with her two children - Paul and Lorraine - in tow in their buggies.

From there her love of helping people and sense of community grew until she got involved in, or organised, pretty much every event that has taken place in the village since.

You could ask anyone there who Margaret Paton is and they’d be able to tell you, as this reporter found out when travelling to her comfy home in Park Avenue for an interview.

Asking for directions, a young woman asked me who I was looking for and I told her. “Oh Margaret,” she replied with a friendly smile. “She’s just down at the end of the road and turn left. Her house is about halfway along, bottom flat with a blue car outside it. Follow that wee boy there, that’s where he’s going.”

That wee boy was her six-year-old grandson Lee who bounded up to the door with his boot laces undone as I was just entering.

Margaret’s “long-suffering” husband Jimmy (69), a retired metal polisher, said: “Everyone knows Margaret. She’s probably been at every door in Laurieston asking for a donation for the association or something else that’s happening. Nobody is safe from her.

“I don’t actually have an identification. I’m just Margaret Paton’s husband.

“Seriously though she does everything, it’s like a full-time job. It’s a clock in and clock out one either. The phone goes all day and night, but she just loves helping people. It’s like an information bureau.

“It’s a lifestyle for us, a big part of her life and the family is very proud of her and what she does.”

Margaret’s family also help her in her work and Jimmy was even chairman of the association before Margaret took over the reigns around 10 years ago.

She first got involved in 1972 through two aunts and an uncle who were members of the association by collecting money for the weekly football draw tickets in the Sunday Post, which no longer runs.

Under her guidance and dedication the hundreds of members of the group enjoy a plethora of activities from a weekly coffee morning in their hall, annual bus trips and nights out to shows.

Margaret remembers the early days of her voluntary work.

She said: “Sundays were spent up and down ladders at the hall painting walls and toilets. Everybody mucked in, it was a great community spirit.

“I used to take the wee ones round with me collecting and just loved having a blether and a laugh with people. After a while people would have sweets ready for the bairns and there would lots of cuddles and kisses and lots of laughs, even in the rain.

“I just love being able to help people and being social, but it’s getting harder as people get older and other people don’t come in to fill the gaps, but I’ll be doing this for as long as I can.

“We’re really busy at the moment with the Christmas concert on Friday (tomorrow) and we’re raising money to get a replacement boiler which is going to cost about £2600.”

Falkirk Provost is another Laurieston resident who knows Margaret and is thankful for all her efforts over the years.

He said: “Not only as Provost but also as a resident of Laurieston for over 30 years, I am aware of the major contribution that Margaret has made to our village in various ways involving people of all ages. Her dedication to our community is appreciated very much and serves as an example to all.”