As a teacher, I had heard of Makaton long before I had met Margaret. I have seen it being used in various schools and the positive impact it has.
My first experience was whilst working at The Queen’s C of E Primary School, Kew; we held special days to recognise the achievements of all the children and ensure all felt included.
During one particular event, ‘Everybody Different, Everybody Brilliant’, we taught children how to use various signs from Makaton and encouraged them to use it around school, and in particular to those children who used it regularly to aid their learning difficulties. It was wonderful to see how quickly they picked up on it and enjoyed using it.
It came as a huge surprise when I moved house and discovered that Margaret, my new neighbour, was the founder of Makaton.
Knowing how widespread the language programme had become, I was amazed at how modest Margaret was in her achievements. Her passion and enthusiasm for speech and language shone through in our conversations. She was also a great support and fountain of knowledge when I had some queries about my son’s speech. Margaret gave me fantastic advice and tips and I was so grateful for her help.
However, it wasn’t until a few months later that I decided to nominate her for a Pride of Britain award.
I saw Makaton being used on ITV’s This Morning, where a group of children used it to help sing a song. It was so moving and emotional and I just couldn’t believe that something Margaret created all those years ago was having this incredible impact on so many people. So, without telling anyone, I decided to nominate her for a Pride of Britain award.
Apart from recognising her amazing achievements, I thought it would be a lovely opportunity for the charity to be in the spotlight.
I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call a couple of months ago to tell me she had won! But because I hadn’t told anyone, it came as a shock to Margaret and her husband and it was a while before they could take it all in.
The night itself was a fantastic experience and I was so proud and honoured to be there to see Margaret collect such a deserving award. A really special moment was when they asked everyone to sign a special thank you message to Margaret using Makaton. To see 900 people signing their thanks to her was unforgettable.
I feel so happy that, through winning the award, Margaret has been recognised for the wonderful contribution she has given to society and how her programme has helped so many. But, equally, it is wonderful to see how The Makaton Charity has been put further into the limelight and given the credit it deserves; hopefully enabling it to become more mainstream in schools and in society, in order to help those who need it feel more included.