'Mrs Chelsea Girl' still glamorous as she turns 80 on New Year's Day

Margaret Woollard, known as "Mrs Chelsea Girl", who is celebrating her 80th birthday at her Ipswich home

Margaret Woollard, known as "Mrs Chelsea Girl", who is celebrating her 80th birthday at her Ipswich home - Credit: Diana Brkovic

Known to countless Ipswich shoppers as "Mrs Chelsea Girl", Margaret Woollard celebrates her 80th birthday on New Year's Day.

Margaret and Peter Woollard with daughter Diana and son John at Hintlesham Hall two years ago for their 60th wedding...

Margaret and Peter Woollard with daughter Diana and son John at Hintlesham Hall two years ago for their 60th wedding anniversary - Credit: Supplied by Woollard family

Mrs Woollard spent 17 years as a manager with the much-loved boutique, which was the shop to go to for fashion fans in the 1970s and 80s. It was where the Body Shop now and is fondly remembered by a whole generation of shoppers.

Sadly her planned 80th birthday celebrations have had to be cancelled because of Covid-19, but the family are hoping to rearrange a get-together once the restrictions are lifted.

"I still get people recognising me from the store after all these years," the great-grandma said. "I had a hospital appointment and the people at reception said 'Here comes Mrs Chelsea Girl'."

Margaret Woollard of Ipswich with a photo of herself with famous fashion designer Jeff Banks 

Margaret Woollard of Ipswich with a photo of herself with famous fashion designer Jeff Banks - Credit: Diana Brkovic

Mrs Woollard, who lives in the east of Ipswich, was manager from when the shop opened in the early 1970s until it closed in 1990, making way for River Island.

She said: "I loved it. I was at the Ipswich shop, but I used to go to their other stores as well."

When members of the Ipswich Remembers Facebook group recently discussed the shops they most missed, Chelsea Girl was mentioned by several - and one member said of Mrs Woollard: "I used to think as a girl how glamorous she looked, and she still does. She's hardly changed."

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Daughter Diana Brkovic said her mum was an influence on many young women.

"Girls would go in who weren't sure what they wanted to buy, and Mum would help them. She has even been recognised on a visit to London - she was in a queue and someone from Suffolk said, 'Excuse me, aren't you Mrs Chelsea Girl?'"

Peter and Margaret Woollard

Margaret Woollard of Ipswich, known as "Mrs Chelsea Girl", who is celebrating her 80th birthday, with husband Peter - Credit: Diana Brkovic

Mrs Woollard and husband Peter have been married for 62 years, and celebrated their diamond wedding at Hintlesham Hall. The family had been planning to go back there for Margaret's 80th, but sadly this has had to be cancelled, after it had already been scaled down to a table for six.

However, Diana said: "We will get all the family together when we can, obviously when it is safe to do so." Mrs Woollard said she would also like to go on another holiday to Hawaii, where she and her husband went for their 25th wedding anniversary.

Mr and Mrs Woollard have two children, Diana and their son John, and five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Before her Chelsea Girl days, Mrs Woollard was a buyer for Corders in Ipswich. After leaving Chelsea Girl, she retrained and worked as a PA for Ipswich Central NHS Management for 10 years before retiring.

Margaret and Peter Woollard at a Dolly Dozen ball in the 1970s

Margaret and Peter Woollard at a Dolly Dozen ball, one of the fundraising events she was involved with in the 1970s - Credit: Supplied by Woollard family

She has done a lot of work for charity over the years, and was a member of the well-known Dolly Dozen fundraising group in the early 1970s, whose fundraising events included balls at the Orwell Hotel in Felixstowe.

She was also on a committee raising funds for Leukaemia Research, and only recently retired from being involved with the talking newspaper for the blind, Sound On, where she ran their library of books on tape. She also sent out countless mailshots for the New Wolsey Theatre.

Mrs Woollard now has mobility problems but still enjoys her garden and is also a keen reader.

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