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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Booth

Margaret, Murk and Mud.

I've had the pleasure of meeting many interesting characters over the years through my job, and last Tuesday was no exception. Heading into a cold, foggy Teesdale, a reporter and myself were tasked with producing an article on 97-year-old botanist Margaret Bradshaw. Small in stature but large in opinion and knowledge, the adopted local has spent 70 years of her life studying the exceptional flora of Upper Teesdale.

After initial difficulties understanding each other due to differing accents and hearing aid technicalities, the PhD and MBE-awarded nonagenarian got into her flow, describing her life's work, and the changes in the flora that she's seen through the years from her strolls across the fells.

Clearly a well informed woman, Margaret was quick to comment once I started taking her picture with a question about what aperture I was using. Wide open was my answer with it being such a dull day. After a few shots in her living room we ventured into the murkiness outside. Conscious of her age and frailty, on turning my back for a moment to change a lens, I was surprised to see how quickly she managed to climb over a fence to pose for me on the other side. It was defintely not a day conducive to photography with not even an outline of the nearby moorland peaks visible. Boggy underfoot too, I sheepishly asked her to stand in an area caked with mud. Would I be cleaning her boots she asked as I made a grunt in agreement and brought the camera up to my eye.

It's chance meetings such as this which make my job so enjoyable. I have full admiration for people such as Margaret who dedicate their lives to a cause or passion they believe in. I'm grateful for the time I spent with her, and hope she didn't have to spend too long cleaning her boots!

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