Wanstead woman pays tribute to NHS by decorating Christmas tree with face masks

Wanstead woman Peggy O'Riordan, 89, has decorated her Christmas with face masks to pay tribute to the NHS. Picture: Katherine...

Wanstead woman Peggy O'Riordan, 89, has decorated her Christmas with face masks to pay tribute to the NHS. Picture: Katherine O'Riordan - Credit: Archant

Wanstead woman Peggy O’Riordan has decorated her Christmas tree with face masks to pay tribute to the NHS.

Peggy is a real favourite around the Wanstead community, with this gesture typical of her giving spirit. Picture: Katherine O...

Peggy is a real favourite around the Wanstead community, with this gesture typical of her giving spirit. Picture: Katherine O'Riordan - Credit: Archant

Proudly displayed in her living room window, this type of gesture is typical of the 89-year-old, according to daughter Katherine.

“My mum is so amazingly positive, and I don’t just say that because she’s my mother. She has been in lockdown since March, but she’s never once been down. She’s inspirational, through her attitude and the way she carries herself.”

As it turns out, Peggy – an Irish native from County Kerry who has lived in Wanstead for some 45 years – is something of a local legend, even recently modelling for Woman’s Own Magazine. She has been welcoming new neighbours and waving at passers-by for more than four decades now, and people in the area just gravitate towards her.

Katherine said: “I’ve never met a person that doesn’t love my mum; she really values community and always wants to make people feel a part of it. She sees your heart and your mind.”


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A mother of seven, grandmother to 18, and great-grandmother to four, Peggy’s mentality has no doubt shaped all of their lives. Katherine believes it’s no coincidence that the entire family are blessed with ambition: “Mum and dad have always been incredibly hard working and they drove us to be the same, instilling in us their Irish values.”

Even now Peggy – still fit as a fiddle – shows no sign of slowing down.

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“She always says to me ‘life is for living’, and every day she wakes up with that attitude. She’s always on the go, the phone never stops.”

The tree is typical of how Peggy keeps herself busy, says Katherine, who is full of admiration for how her mum has faced the pandemic with unwavering positivity. This attitude has been tested at points over the years, particularly after Peggy experienced two of life’s most profound losses.

She lost her husband Connie 16 years ago, one-year shy of what would’ve been the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary. Their eldest daughter also died due to complications whilst undergoing surgery.

Such moments have left their mark on the matriarch, but Peggy simply has an incredible zest for life: “She’s a beacon of positivity and loved by everybody. Whilst we dearly miss dad and our sister Margaret, we are just so blessed to have our wonderful mother as well as our family.”

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