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Margaret the mysterious

Friends and neighbours want to erect a bench in memory of woman who became a figure of affection

07 February, 2019 — By John Gulliver

Margaret Leibbrandt – once a familiar face in Primrose Hill

TO me, she was a mystery woman, face pinched, slightly bent shoulders, walking up and down Regent’s Park Road. Up and down, at any time of the day, you could see her. Where to? It didn’t seem to matter. She seemed aware only of her own world. Some­thing had happened to her in her life. But what?

It really wasn’t my business, I suppose. But who could not be mystified by the mysterious woman.

Then, two or three years ago, came a transformation. The woman walked with more self-awareness, more aplomb.

She had come out of wherever she had been and was back with the real world at last.

In fact, I discovered, she was known personally to many people. And had, at one time, apparently been a teacher.

But something had happened to her – and she had retreated into herself.

Once, after she took on her old persona, she dropped a note through my letterbox. It was beautifully written, revealing a fine mind, yearning for contact.

But before I could spot her again in the street she vanished. I didn’t know but at the time she had taken seriously ill and died last autumn.

Only then did I discover her name was Margaret Leibbrandt, originally from South Africa, apparently. It also seems she had once been a teacher with a sister who lives in Hove.

She died at the age of 76. She had been living in a splendid estate in Fitzroy Road, Primrose Hill, peopled with elderly tenants under a housing association known as Central and Cecil.

Now, friends and neighbours want to erect a bench in her memory in Primrose Hill park.

It will cost £1,500. So far, they have raised £500 through crowdfunding.

A bench is a fine memorial for a woman who became such a figure of affection in the area.


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