With the whole country doing its bit for Macmillan Cancer Support last week with the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, we take a look at the work of Margery James OBE and her group for our special report.

Margery was the first face visitors to the Wynnstay Hotel in Oswestry met on Friday as she yet again led the fundraising for the cancer support charity and is celebrating more than four decades of raising money.

But while she is proud of the work she does – receiving an OBE for services to Macmillan in 2009 – Margery said she fell into the role accidentally, and admitted her past is part of her fundraising drive.

“I’ve been involved with Macmillan for 43 years,” she said. “A friend of mine said that they were trying to start a committee in Oswestry for cancer relief, as it was then.

“I said I would come along but I didn’t really want to get that involved. That went well.

“We started a committee but the chairman retired not long after we started and no-one wanted to do the job.

“So I was pushed into it and it’s been going now since 1976. I became chairman three years after we started and I’ve made a lot of friends.

“In around 1955/56, I had an operation as they had found out that I had a tumour at the top of my spinal cord. I couldn’t walk – I was paralysed and there wasn’t the equipment then as there was now.

“I was taken over to Manchester from the Orthopaedic [Hospital]. They didn’t tell people then it was a tumour but they called it a blockage.

“Altogether, I was in Manchester Royal and the Orthopaedic for six months, and I came home on two sticks.

“I was coming to 26 then, and in essence I was a young, strong woman. I celebrated my birthday and my third wedding anniversary in the hospital in Manchester.

“I had physio three times a week and when I came back to the Orthopaedic, I learned to walk. I’m very lucky really – I am.

“I’ve had two children, and they told me not to lift anything but I’ve done that all of my life. I didn’t work but that’s not to say that I was sat down with my feet up.

“People used to say to me that I was trier – I can’t believe that people don’t try. It doesn’t seem the right thing to me, not to try.

“I think about those surgeons, and how good they were in those days. My son said to me recently that those surgeons were brave to do that operation.

“It was groundbreaking but they didn’t tell me until a long time after. They told my husband that it was one thing or the other.

“I want to make sure the new generation of doctors have the funds available to them.

“It was an accident for me to come into fundraising. But no-one knew of cancer relief – I didn’t. I knew of cancer research but not cancer relief.

“People didn’t know what they had. My granny used to say someone was ill with a growth but that word! It was a terrible word that used to go through me.”

Margery believes the work she has done is something to be proud of.

She added: “I think I’ve raised more than £500,000 in my time, and the friends I’ve made. What has pleased me more than anything is hearing from somebody who knows someone, or has been through it themselves, or have had the services of Macmillan.

“Not just the medical staff, but the support such as money. It’s not just about surviving cancer but it’s about making their end of life care better too.

“The amount of people that have been helped in Shropshire is amazing and our first fundraiser was in the Methodist Church [in Oswestry].

“The place was packed out and we made £100 but in those days, that was a lot of money.

Tudor Humphreys, who is partnership manager for Macmillan for West Midlands West, says there has been more than £2 million raised by the group.

He was at the main coffee morning event at the Wynnstay, as he is Oswestry-based, and he was full of praise for Margery and the work that she has carried out.

He said: “It’s really important to come to these events and tell people what the morning is being spent on.

“Margery has helped raise so much money for primary care with their work and their sponsorship across Shropshire. They are so importantly crucial to what we do.”

To find out more about the Oswestry branch of Macmillan you can call Margery on 01691 650334 or alternatively visit www.macmillan.org.uk