MARGARET SCRUTTON was a woman of the new century who blazed a trail for younger women long before legislation for sex equality.
Born Margaret Eurich in 1901, she was educated at Cheltenham Ladies' College and Bedford College, London, where she took an Honours Degree in Chemistry. She then became the first woman technologist at Leeds University, where she gained a BSc in Fuel and Gas Engineering.
Her marriage in 1926 to Harold Bligh, later headmaster of Thames Valley Grammar School, was followed by the birth of one daughter and four sons, and by a shift in her activities to voluntary and social work. During the Second World War she was active in the Women Citizens' Association, who supported her non-party candidature on Twickenham Borough Council, where she was chairman of the Health Committee and used her scientific training in the cause of the Smoke Abatement Society.
In 1947 she embarked on social- work training for the Church of England, specialising in children's moral welfare - what is now termed child abuse. After eight years as a case worker she brought her experience and expertise to several important voluntary movements - Church Social Work, the Josephine Butler Society, the International Council of Women, and the National Council of Women of Great Britain, where she worked tirelessly for amendment of the law on numerous social issues - adoption; legal medical termination of pregnancy; the protection of under- age children against sexual abuse; divorce law reform; the elimination of 'double moral standards' for men and women under the Street Offences Act governing solicitation; child poverty, and one-parent families.
Internationally she worked for human rights, and for the Anti-Slavery Movement, on which she was five times a delegate for ICW to UN Ecosoc (United Nations Economic and Social Committee) conferences in Geneva. She held high office in both the ICW and the NCW, where her work was greatly valued.
After the death of her first husband in 1969 Margaret Bligh trained as a lay reader, the first woman to do so in her diocese, and was regularly to be seen on parish duties riding her elderly bicycle. Her training brought her in contact with Canon Tom Scrutton, whom she married in 1972 and with whom until his death she shared some years of great happiness.
Margaret Scrutton was a woman of wide-ranging interests and remained active and independent almost to the end of her long and useful life.Reuse content