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Gertrude MacDonald (nee Woolliscroft) 1872-1948
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Gertrude MacDonald (nee Woolliscroft) 1872-1948

of Ilkeston, Derbyshire

Gertrude Woolliscroft 1872-1948

Gertrude was the youngest daughter of Charles and Amelia Woolliscroft. She was born on the 17 December 1872 at Ilkeston in Derbyshire. 

In 1902 she married John Angus MacDonald at the Wesleyan Chapel in Bath Street, Ilkeston where her father was deacon. Gertrude was Mayoress of Ilkeston between 1913 and 1916 when her husband was Mayor. 

Gertrude Woolliscroft 1914

She was a very competent amateur artist and in 1914 exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer show. The picture is reproduced below. She painted both in watercolours and oils. Many of her original paintings remain within the family. However, two of her paintings were donated to the Erewash Borough Council and can be viewed at the BBC website “Your Paintings.”

Gertrude took an active role in the Ilkeston community. During the 1914-18 war she was was Township Leader of the British Red Cross and was also responsible for the organisation of the Prisoner of War Fund, Comforts Fund and various other charities. At her own expense she placed a memorial in the Ilkeston Parish Church in memory of the prisoners of war who died in captivity. 

For organising the care of some 150 Belgian refugees during World War 1 Gertrude was awarded the Queen Elisabeth Medal by the Queen of the Belgians in October 1918.

Queen Elizabeth Medal (Belgium)

During WW2 she was the head of the British Red Cross in the Ilkeston area. Gertrude died on the 14 December 1948 at her home in Ilkeston. She was buried three days later at Kirk Hallam, following a service at the Parish Church in Ilkeston.

At the time of her death Mrs A. O. Marshall, secretary of the British Red Cross, Ilkeston Branch, paid the following tribute to Gertrude - “She was an energetic leader we were all proud to follow. She had the interests of the British Red Cross, particularly its work in this district, very near to her heart. Her great work in the past will remain an inspiration to us all.” (taken from her Obituary dated the 17 Dec 1948, unknown paper).

I would like to thank Michael Harmer for sharing his family history research with me. Images on this page are reproduced with Michael’s consent unless otherwise stated.

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