Tributes to inspirational sportswoman Margaret Leighton

Wakefield Hockey Club stalwart Margaret Leighton who has died aged 85
Wakefield Hockey Club stalwart Margaret Leighton who has died aged 85

An inspirational woman who was at the heart of the city’s sporting scene has died aged 85.

Margaret Leighton was a past president and player for Wakefield Hockey Club, a talented tennis player and a former teacher.

Margaret Leighton in her playing days

Margaret Leighton in her playing days

The grandmother-of-four, from Sandal, passed away peacefully on July 11. Her funeral took place on Friday.

Her three children, in a family statement, said “Margaret has described her life as a busy one ‘as a sportswoman, teacher, mother and senior citizen’. Others will describe her as a wonderful, kind, formidable woman with an inspiringly positive attitude throughout her remarkable life. 

“Margaret had a zest for life which shone through in everything that she did. A classy lady, her spirit will live on through her husband, children, grandchildren, god children and the thousands of children she taught and coached over the years.”

Her teaching career included being Head of Physical Education at Wakefield Girls High School and roles at Thornes House School and Manygates Middle School.

Mrs Leighton was herself a top PE student and was capped for England B, Kent and Yorkshire at hockey. But she also excelled at tennis, winning ladies championships at College Grove and Walton Tennis Club.

Off the field she was president of the Wakefield Hockey Club for a decade, president of West Yorkshire Girls Hockey, lady secretary of Woodthorpe Golf Club, a tennis coach and a hockey selector.

A statement on Wakefield Hockey Club’s website said: “Margaret will be a great loss to Wakefield Hockey Club, both to young and old, and will be remembered as a great contributor to hockey in Wakefield and Yorkshire.”

Mr Leighton is survived by her husband of 62 years, Geoff, children Janet Litchfield, Peter Leighton, and Philip Leighton, grandchildren Thomas Leighton, Helen Litchfield, Robert Leighton, Sally Litchfield and brother Eric Bowles.

Mrs Leighton’s children said their mum was “at the centre of her own family and extended family” and her family and friends would cherish the memories.

Her funeral takes place at 1pm at Wakefield Crematorium. There will be a reception afterwards at Wakefield Sports Club in College Grove which Mrs Leighton had been associated with for more than 55 years.