February 3, 2019
By Sue Redfern (FIL President) and Fiona Clark (Past IFWLA President)
Friends of Women’s Lacrosse around the world have come together to pay tribute to the ‘Lady of Welsh Lacrosse,’ Margaret Turner, who passed away 6 January 2019 after a short illness, at the grand age of 95.
Margaret has been a loyal supporter of international women’s lacrosse since 1986 and was integral to the development of Women’s Lacrosse in Wales. Indeed, she was the longest serving President of the Wales Lacrosse Association which was launched in 1930, and she served in this position from 1986 – 2001. During her tenure she built the POP program (using a soft oversized ball and plastic-pocketed stick) that eventually expanded to 120 schools, and a WLA-organized tournament.
Prior to her International career Margaret was active as a player, coach and administrator. A natural Leader, Margaret was made Captain of her school team, Howell’s School, Llandaff, and went on to Captain the Welsh Team from 1953 to 1958 playing both attack and defence. She earned her first International cap in 1947 and finished her career as a national player in 1959, having played for Wales for thirteen consecutive years.
Margaret was a multi-sports person – playing cricket, tennis, netball, field hockey, lacrosse, badminton, squash and dancing, and she continued with many of these sports until quite late in life, indeed playing badminton into her early 90’s. Three months after a knee replacement in 2006 she was climbing over fences on hill walks in the countryside of the UK!
Many of us who knew Margaret are feeling a great sense of sorrow, yet we take real delight and satisfaction in recalling the wonderful memories of the times shared with her at international lacrosse events and meetings over many years. As we reminisced about Margaret, during our Federation of International (FIL) meetings in Philadelphia in January, where we heard the sad news, it was stories of fun and laughter that came to our minds, but always with a great sense of respect and admiration as well. It was the character of Margaret Turner that the international lacrosse world came to fall in love with ~ she was a great source of knowledge, and an excellent story teller, with an innate sense of fun, spiritedness and creativity.
Margaret’s first International IFWLA Conference was at Swarthmore in 1986, where first impressions of Margaret were of a mischievous pixie, dancing through the flower beds to everyone’s great amusement. No one had ever come across anyone like her before! Margaret, as the WLA President/Council Delegate, attended 13 IFWLA Conferences from 1986 – 1997, and again in 2001 ~ a record only surpassed by Sue Redfern (14), Lanetta Ware (16) and Fiona Clark (21). Little did we know however that 2017 in Guildford, England, would be the last World Cup Margaret would ever attend.
Some of the tales we have heard about Margaret included being on a ferry on the way to Ireland with Wales/GB squad where they all practised on the ship’s deck and lost many lacrosse balls over the side, but with a determination to keep practising despite this. In later years she would turn up to Welsh practices and offer to be a backstop behind goal to collect loose balls. She was always smiling, and always wanting to be part of an event. Fellow IFWLA conference goers remember her falling behind a bed in Edogawa, Japan, in 1997 and mimicking various people in dance routines she invented.
Margaret created for herself a position as the International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse Association (IFWLA) Archivist – simply by realising before anyone else did, how important the collection of historical photos, programmes and other information was to the history of our sport. She took this on without being asked, and from 1986 until 2001 she kept all the IFWLA records from events and meetings, and if she was not able to be present herself, she asked someone else to do this for her ~ never making any fuss about it, just quietly going about ensuring that this was done.
Twenty years after Margaret organized and hosted the IFWLA Conference in Cardiff in 1986, the IFWLA returned to Wales, and in 2006 the Officers were delighted to present an IFWLA Recognition Award to Margaret for both her role as IFWLA Archivist, and for the contribution she had made to Wales and to Women’s Lacrosse around the world. In a letter of acknowledgment, the IFWLA President wrote “You have been a wonderful advocate in spreading the word of International Lacrosse, and you are to be commended on your efforts. I’ve no doubt there have been many interested lacrosse enthusiasts in the various countries who have attended IFWLA World Events and have valued seeing and reading the history of the IFWLA. The sport of Women’s Lacrosse has indeed been fortunate to have benefited from your interest and commitment in this area.”She was also presented with a photo collage – “The Life and Times of Margaret Turner in International Lacrosse:”
Margaret was an active church member all her life, and a member of the church choir; she had a beautiful singing voice, and we all enjoyed hearing her proudly sing the Welsh National Anthem.
After handing the archivist role on to Sue Redfern, and then to Fiona Clark, Margaret continued to attend and support Women’s World Events around the world when she could, including the last three Women’s World Events in 2013 (Canada), 2015 (Edinburgh) and 2017 (Guildford). Her effervescent presence will be sorely missed by all those who have known her. She was a legend and an inspiration ~ a beautiful fun and vibrant person who cast a brilliant light on all those who were lucky enough to know her ~ and we are so happy we were two of them!!
The FIL passes on their condolences to Margaret’s Welsh Lacrosse Family~ she will be warmly remembered, and deeply missed.
“A life well-lived is a precious gift, of hope and strength and grace
From someone who has made our world a brighter, better place.”