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Margaret was a kindly, wonderful and charming lady who always thought of other people. This generosity is totally in character; Widow leaves more than pounds 400,000 to villagers who took her to their hearts.

Byline: Mike Jones

A VILLAGE has been left a fortune by a widow as a thank you for the welcome she was given when she retired there.

Margaret Allen travelled the world with the Foreign Office but was happiest when living in Solva, population 800, on the Pembrokeshire coast.

Now many who live there will receive a share of the pounds 400,000 she left in her will.

Margaret and husband Harry, a former Foreign Office official, loved holidaying in the picturesque harbour village and then moved there 30 years ago.

Villagers welcomed them with open arms and the couple - who had no children - were soon members of local social clubs, societies and the chapel.

When Mr Allen died in 1990 locals rallied around his widow and helped her rebuild her life.

When her own health started to fail, Mrs Allen decided to repay the community's kindness.

Now, after dying at the age of 90, she has left up to pounds 10,000 to more than a dozen of her close friends and carers.

And everyone over the age of 60 who has lived in the village for more than 20 years will get a share of her estate. About 120 will benefit from the hand-out - each receiving about pounds 500.

The legacy was part of a pounds 407,028 estate which Mrs Allen has spread around the village.

Her companion in her final years was ginger tomcat Brutus - and even he was not forgotten in her six-page will.

It states: "To any person whom the executors agree to taking care of my cat to avoid it being put down or going into a cattery - the sum of pounds 3,000." Margaret's neighbours Dave and Viv Phillips have taken on the six-year-old cat.

Retired BT engineer Mr Phillips, 56, said: "Margaret was a remarkable woman who was friends with everybody in the village. She and her husband built a house here when her husband retired and they quickly became part of the community.

"They were regulars at the local Ship Inn and she always entertained there on her birthdays.

"She was housebound for a while before she died but she was still so interested in the affairs of the village and the people here." His wife Viv, 53, said: "Because they had no children they regarded the village as her family.

"She was popular with everyone but I think people were in a state of shock when they realised how generous she was to them." She left pounds 25,000 to be shared between the carers who looked after her in the last few years of her life.

Mrs Allen also gave pounds 10,000 to the local memorial hall, pounds 10,000 to local churches and pounds 5,000 to Solva Luncheon Club to be spent on drinks at Christmas.

There was pounds 2,000 to the Pembrokeshire Conservative Association, pounds 5,000 to the local football club and pounds 5,000 to the village surgery to improve patient facilities.

She gave pounds 15,000 to local cat and dog charities and pounds 1,000 to a local badger group.

Mrs Allen left pounds 10,000 to her only living relative, Jan-Petter Arseth - her paternal half-sister's grandson - who lives in Norway.

Mrs Allen left instructions in her will that her ashes should be scattered in the rose bushes at the garden of her home at Anchor Down, Solva, as her husband's were 17 years earlier.

Villager Peggy Evans, 86, said: "Margaret was a kindly, wonderful and charming lady who always thought of other people.

"This generosity is completely in character and villagers are delighted she has remembered them." Any remaining sum is likely to be taken up by death duties..

'An amazing woman' Mrs Allan was certainly no shrinking violet during her life.

She enlisted in the Royal Navy, who tapped into her expertise as a fluent speaker of Norwegian, because she was half Norwegian from her father's side.

Her proper first name was Borghild, but she was known as Margaret all her life as she grew up in London before moving to Wales.

Close friend and will executor Mrs Susan King, 71, said: "Margaret was an amazing woman. She had learned to parachute and was about to be dropped behind lines into Norway just when the war ended.

"She and her husband had travelled but were very happy to settle in Solva when they retired.

"She was very striking when she was younger with fair hair from her Scandinavian roots.

"Margaret was also a member of Mensa and very active in the Conservative Party. She was a very kind and intelligent woman.

"It was typical of Margaret to think of others in her will." Mrs King, who was left a pair of diamond earrings by Mrs Allen in her will, said the final share-out will be made in the next few weeks.

"People are asking about it - but we won't know exactly how much will go to exactly how many people until all the final numbers are calculated." Her fellow neighbour David Smith, 81, will miss out on a specific bequest because he retired to the village less than 20 years ago - but was delighted by other donations to village life.

He said: "Mrs Allan and her husband were both very community minded and very nice neighbours to have. They had the knack of getting on with everybody and are missed." The Allans had lived in the London area before retiring but chose Solva to spend their holidays during the 1950s and 1960s.

Close friend Olive Evans runs the Solva Memorial Hall, where Mrs Allan donated her large collection of books garnered over a lifetime.

Mrs Evans said: "She was an intelligent, very nice but private person - a very dear woman and a friend I miss very much."


WELCOME: The seaside village of Solva where Margaret Allen, below as a young woman, lived for more than 30 years PICTURE: Wales News
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 28, 2009
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