It is with deep regret that the AEJ UK notes the death of Margaret (Maggi) Hughes.
Margaret was a journalist for more than 30 years, mainly at the FT and The Guardian.
A long-time AEJ member, she was the hard working AEJ UK secretary from 2010 to 2020, communicating with members and reliably administering lunch meetings and the consequent detail of notifying members, arranging their attendance, collating necessary lists and information, and managing the catering.
Maggi died in a care home on 7 December 2022 after several months in hospital – still hankering for her favoured gin and tonic and a cigarette.
She was buried in Llandre near Aberystwyth alongside her brother David in her beloved Wales, a lifetime attachment she honoured by arranging for Christmas flowers every year at St. Michael’s Church in Llandre where her father Harold was the local vicar and her mother Louie a teacher. The funeral was held on January 14 and a memorial service is planned for April 15 in London.
Maggi first qualified as a pharmacist and worked for Glaxo as a copywriter on their publications before becoming a journalist.
In the 1970s, Maggi worked for the Financial Times as a reporter and later as editor of the FT’s world trade page from 1975 to 1980 before going to Cairo where she reported for the FT, the Observer, Cairo Today, and the Middle East Economic Digest.
After returning to London, she worked briefly at Robert Maxwell’s London Daily News before it folded after only five months in 1987 and then joined The Guardian to become its well-respected personal finance editor.
Maggi worked with a team of journalists at The Guardian in a career spanning 18 years and winning an award for personal finance journalist of the year in 1989.
Back in London she also carved out a new life for herself, enjoying the jazz she loved, sharing her great sense of fun with close friends, and perhaps most memorably hosting legendary annual parties marking the new year which became a highlight of the holiday season for years.
Obituary – The Guardian
List of articles 1999-2005 by Margaret Hughes as personal finance editor at The Guardian
Maggi’s obit of her brother David
We welcome further recollections of Maggi below and have this report on the funeral from former FT colleague and AEJ member Tony Robinson:
Maggi Hughes was laid to rest on Saturday, January 14, in the Hughes family plot next to the remains of her mother and father and beloved elder brother. The graveyard stretches high up on the green hillside below the Victorian church of Llandre, the village north of Aberystwyth where she was born and spent her early childhood.
Dylan, her cousin, and other members of the Hughes clan and family friends, recalled affectionate memories of her long and eventful life in homilies during the dignified church service led by the vicar. The congregation of around 25 family and friends sang Psalm 23 –the Lord Is My Shepherd – and Abide With Me, as the organ reverberated around the gothic interior with splendid stained glass windows.
Bill Hall and I were part of the congregation to say goodbye to a friend and colleague from FT days and latterly at the AEJ, and give thanks for Maggi’s sterling work as secretary of the AEJ where she played a key role in attracting a long list of excellent speakers for many years.
A wintry sun shone on mourners through lowering clouds as Maggi was laid to rest, a small miracle as weeks of heavy rain had flooded fields, roads and railways on routes to and through Wales, while high winds earlier in the day whipped up a stormy sea.
The memory of Maggi being buried in a churchyard fall of memorials to local families with names like Hughes and Rees and Jones will remain vivid for a long time, and it seems to me that people don’t really leave us while such memories remain.
I’ll remember Maggi (or Margaret, as I knew her) as a proper Fleet Street character – hard drinking and smoking, swore like a trooper, fiery temper… but hid a soft centre beneath the tough exterior. She gave me my first job on a national newspaper, and while you never quite knew what to expect when she arrived into the office around midday, she was fiercely loyal to those she brought into the paper. She was generous with her time and advice and took pride in helping young reporters progress. I owe her a great deal.
Very sad to hear about Maggi. She was great fun and invariably smoked small cheroots with her G+T. If I remember rightly she was a member of the notorious gang of seven AEJ members who were kicked out of the Two Chairman pub for polishing off the post AEJ-meeting wine store in it and hiding the bottles under the table.
I just heard [about Maggi] and was very sad. She was a very good person and taught my daughter so much – Natasha worked with her for a year at the Guardian.
Margaret was such a good friend of Frank and she was such a generous person and for years had a wonderful party in the new year which we attended – all my family came it was such a wonderful evening filled with all sorts of famous people and journalists from all papers loved it.
A lovely lady and a very, very, good friend.
I called on Margaret in the summer shortly before she had a relapse and was taken into the Royal Free.
I visited her again early last month in the nursing home in Haselmere she was transferred to after discharge from the Royal Free.
I got to know Maggie in Cairo. At the time I was the FT stringer. She had given up a senior staff job on the paper to accompany her then husband to Egypt with uncertain prospects of finding work there. Despite this she settled into Cairo life with gusto and carved out a social and professional niche which produced many lifelong friends.
Maggie was understated, but utterly dependable which gave a special quality to her friendship. In her discreet way she brought people together; with Maggie Smith she haunted jazz dives like the Crazy Coqs and other venues. A meeting at the Chelsea Arts Club contrived to ensnare an elusive mutual friend of mine and Maggie Smith resulted in a ‘no show’ which left me with the two Maggies and Stephanie Gray who had been dragged into the plot to savour our own company. Her New Year’s party invitation, always accompanied by generous gift tokens for the boys, were staples of Christmas. And what parties they were, bringing together a kaleidoscope of social and professional circles from her time at the Guardian and the FT. For the Cairo crowd they provided a much appreciated-opportunity to revive old contacts and measure the passing of the years. There were more than 25 of them in all.
It is a very sad day, Maggi really was a core part of the AEJ’s world for so many years… an indomitable and long lasting colleague and friend.
I was honoured to be invited to the final years of Maggi’s New Year parties.
And to have become a friend, sharing so many memorable experiences and conversations so many times over the last 20 years.
She was indeed a special person – a sharp observer full of life, care, honesty, and integrity.
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