LETTER: Fond memories of “shining star” Maggie Cantwell

Noel Cantwell and Maggie Cantwell at Canters 1984
Noel Cantwell and Maggie Cantwell at Canters 1984
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I was very saddened to hear of the death of Maggie Cantwell and wish to extend my condolences and that of my husband, Alan, to her many friends and family in Peterborough and elsewhere.

Alan and I met Maggie and her legendary husband, Noel, when I first became the MP for Peterborough in 1997 and we were proud to count them as friends. Noel and Maggie made their home in Peterborough (and were both tremendous ambassadors for the city) after Noel had served in many highly distinguished roles including especially, captain of the great 1960s Manchester United football team, star player for West Ham, captain of the Republic of Ireland team, manager of Coventry City FC and of course, manager of Posh, where he was known affectionately and respectfully as ‘The Messiah.’ Afterwards, he and Maggie (who was a talented professional singer) established a business in the city and were loved Peterborians who had a good word and would do a kind deed for all.

I will never forget hosting a charity event at The House of Commons where the guest speaker was a certain Mr George Best. George had been a young, rookie player under Noel’s captaincy at Manchester United and had not seen the Cantwells (a couple who very much took him under their wing in those early days) for some years. As a young, new Manchester United player, George had idolised Noel and had also helped out as the Cantwell’s babysitter. Unbeknownst to George, I invited Noel and Maggie to the event at Westminster, and when he turned up to make his speech and saw them there; Maggie looking immaculate as always in a stunning white trouser suit – he burst into smiles, rushed the length of the room and embraced them both.

“It has made it all worth while just to see Gnasher and his missus again!” he proclaimed. I still have the framed picture of them all on my wall today.

On Friday 3rd February, at the Cathedral, Peterborough will honour one of its shining stars in Maggie. Alan and I will be there to pay our respects and I suspect we will be two amongst many.

Rest in peace Maggie. You were a woman of substance. You and Noel made us proud of you both and it was an honour to know you.

Helen Clark

(MP for Peterborough 1997-2005)