My mother, Marjorie Dykins, who has died aged 86, was a passionate believer in volunteering, and married this with an unbending commitment to raising the profile of her beloved native Wales.
She was born in Acrefair, a village to the west of Wrexham, north Wales, to John and Martha Harrison. She spoke Welsh as a first language as a child, attended Ruabon high school, and worked as a chemist before winning a scholarship to study biochemistry at Rutgers University, New Jersey, in the 1950s, at a time when women found it hard to get on to courses of any sort, let alone in the sciences.
After three years in New York she returned to Wales. Through mutual friends she met my father, Eirwyn, who became a chief clerk to the county court in Wrexham. After marrying, they set up home in Wrexham. While bringing up my brother and me she still found time to start playgroups, become an active member of local organising committees, and taught at Wrexham Technical Institute. After my sister was born she became the Pre-school Playgroups Association’s national adviser for Wales and, later, chair of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action. Other projects with which she became involved included Home Start, Family Friends, and various asylum and refugee support groups, and she would undertake anything and everything in our local chapel. She was also an active member of the advisory group involved in the process of establishing the Welsh Assembly.
She was passionate about volunteering, and even more passionate about Wales, believing that it had a unique identity but would only thrive as part of the United Kingdom. In later years she gave up a room in her home for an asylum seeker.
When she was appointed OBE in 1996, despite the views of my republican father (who believed OBE stood for Other Buggers’ Efforts), we proudly watched her accept it on behalf of Wales and the volunteering services she had helped to establish.
Towards the end of his life my dad developed Alzheimer’s and she looked after him for two years before his death in 2010. According to one grandchild, she possessed a kindliness underlain by a stubbornness that should never be underestimated.
She is survived by her three children, Robert, Nora and me, and by her five grandchildren.