A Tribute to Dr Margaret McDermott
On Monday 30 September 2019 Future Pillars supporters joined hands across 2 continents to celebrate the life of a founding trustee of Future Pillars and a quite extraordinary woman, Dr Margaret McDermott. Verwood Methodist Church UK was full to overflowing as we met to worship and to give thanks for Margaret’s life. At the same time, and using some of the same hymns, a thanksgiving service was taking place at FFCS, Kabwe.
The wordcloud below contains all the words that trustees said in tribute to Margaret and is produced in the shape of Africa and with its national colours. Head teacher, Moses, and school administrator, Patrick, sent contributions that were placed alongside contributions made by all the trustees and woven into one tribute read at the service.
All of us are profoundly grateful for Margaret’s remarkable vision, resilience and inspirational work as a Future Pillars trustee. We all respected her for her wisdom, her selflessness, her determination, her ability to keep on top of complex detail without drowning in it, her natural collaborative instincts and her tenacious grasp of our goal: to feed and educate children and young people so that theirs is a better future. She combined her superb organisational skills and professionalism with a generous, compassionate and loving heart. Her Christian commitment showed itself in ordinary, open-minded human ways and her enthusiasm was infectious.
Let the last words go to headteacher, Revd Moses Kopa, and to School administrator, Patrick Sichilima:
Moses: “The legacy you have left us will outlast the years you were with us in person. You have been a wonderful leader and mother”.
Patrick: “We must honour her by doing all her heart desires. She fought a good fight and ran a good race. May she rest in peace until we meet again on the other side of this life”.
Indeed, may this be so.
Rosemary Stanbury – Chair
I met Margaret and her family when my late husband was the Minister at their Methodist church in Dorset, in the 1980s, and made my first visit to Zambia in 2006. It was a life changing experience. I now spend a month of each year there and where part of my heart remains. Apart from that I spend much time fundraising and evangelising on behalf of the poor children.
When my husband was ill he asked that monies raised at his funeral be used for the good of the children in Kabwe. Consequently, in 2009 I went out primarily to open the Stanbury Block, consisting of four classrooms and a staff room, built in his memory.
As a retired teacher my main focus as a Trustee is concerned with our onsite school and with the students we are able to sponsor into secondary education. However, we all share the tasks and responsibilities.
Hailing from Cornwall we lived in eight areas of the UK, ending in Oxfordshire where I still reside. I have two adult children and two grandchildren.
She has 5 children and 12 grandchildren – all growing up fast and a continuing source of love, interest, inspiration and support.
She was involved with CONTESA from its earliest days and became Vice-Chair. She has visited Zambia every year since 2005, being closely involved with the development and running of all the projects.
She is an active member of Verwood Methodist Church and sees Future Pillars Zambia as a part of the practical outworking of faith in partnership with people in need, regardless of race, religion, gender or any other factor.
Peter McAughey – Treasurer
I am Peter McAughey, married to the wonderful Fiona and living in rural Cornwall with our dog and cat, surrounded by a fabulous extended family.
My day job is running my own Accountancy practice having qualified as a Chartered accountant way back in the 1990s.
Previously I have also been a school governor (for six years), the treasurer for Action for ME and chair of the local tennis club. My main hobby now is running and I compete in everything from 5k park runs to full marathons.
I first became involved in Zambia when I was invited to visit in 2016. I became a CONTESA trustee in the same year and am now delighted to be a founding trustee for Future Pillars (Zambia).
I am humbled by what I have seen at first hand, a little embarrassed about our Western living standards and keen to do all I can as part of a wonderful dedicated team to improve outcomes in Zambia for as many vulnerable children as possible.
I got involved with charitable work in Zambia through Esnat, the founder of Contesa from which the Future Pillars work has sprung. I am a Methodist minister in Dorset, and Esnat attended a local Methodist church. I heard about the work in 2010, joined many in my congregations who already supported it and I have been involved ever since. I was thrilled to join Esnat and others on a trip to Zambia to visit the projects in 2012. That visit really opened my eyes to need and made me the more determined to support the work and encourage others to do likewise. Future Pillars stands for so much that is part of who I am. As a former teacher, I want young people to learn. As a minister, I want to promote the worth of all people and help them to flourish. As a person who contributes to the work, I want to know that money donated is being spent wisely. As a middle class white person I want to acknowledge how much I learn from those who are in a very different context from my own. Being part of Future Pillars is most definitely a two-way relationship.
I am Kathryn, living in Sevenoaks, Kent and married with two daughters. I work in Training and Change Management with retailers across the UK.
My parents used to live in Verwood, Dorset, knew Margaret McDermott through their church and were supporters of Contesa. I first became involved in 2009, when my mother died and our family decided to remember her life as a teacher by sponsoring two students to complete their secondary education . An invitation to visit soon followed, and in 2010 Dad and I went to Zambia . We were able to visit the projects and the compounds where the children live, and met not just “our” students but many more wonderful children and young people. As the mother of two then teenage girls, it made me realise just how lucky we are. On my return I became a trustee of Contesa, and in 2013 I visited again, this time with my husband.
I am delighted to become one of the founding trustees of Future Pillars, continuing the good work begun by Contesa . I hope that we will be able to empower many more young people in Kabwe to improve their own lives and those of their families too.
Oh, and those two students? One is now an electrician, and the other a teacher. It can be done!
I’m married to Becky, who also had a very full career in secondary schools, teaching PE, then Humanities and Travel & Tourism, finishing as an assistant head teacher. We have 2 children (Matthew and Heidi) who are both married and both have 2 children. When Heidi went to Leeds University, she met Thandi, who had been sponsored to study in UK from Zambia. As this relationship blossomed, we decided we ought to become acquainted with Zambia. Over the next few years, we got to know a number of Thandi’s family and friends and in 2005 we visited Zambia for the first time.
One particular friend of Thandi – Martin Simbeye with Karolyn, his wife, decided to start a new school in Zambia. We found ourselves volunteering to help in the project and the school opened in Kapiri Mposhi, Central Province in January 2014, coinciding with the introduction of the new Zambian National Curriculum. We were very busy leading the induction of the teachers and the new students, fresh from primary school.
Since 2014, we have been visiting Zambia every year for around a month, leading conferences for headteachers, subject teachers and doing some teaching too in 2 universities. This work continues to grow.
In September 2015, we moved from Hayling Island to rural Dorset and found a house and church that suited us in Blandford Forum. Quite amazingly, Blandford Methodist Church already had a number of links with Zambia – not least the fact that Rev. Gwyneth Owen (the minister) was a trustee of what has evolved as Future Pillars Zambia.
The relationship between our previous commitments in Zambia and becoming involved in the work in Kabwe has blossomed. With Family Futures Community School (FFCS) acting as host, we have facilitated two rounds of professional development conferences (2017 and 2018), concentrating on headteacher education and skill set development, as well as working alongside subject teachers. Given the ongoing concern at the national, provincial and district levels for the standards being achieved by children in the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science and beyond, the purpose of the conferences aligns seamlessly with the Zambian moral and professional imperative for all its schools – in order to improve standards achieved by children, it is essential to improve the quality of teaching, and, in order to improve the quality of teaching, it is essential to improve the quality of teacher and school leadership.
Whilst this is a rather broad and, some would say, ambitious agenda, it is essential that FFCS are the main beneficiaries, enabling the vulnerable children that attend to be empowered through high quality care, teaching and leadership.