BOLTON'S new Woman of the Year for 1997 Mrs Margaret Willis is finding a rewarding postscript to last month's celebrations.

Margaret, from Lavender Road, Farnworth, is the woman who battled against recurring mental ill-health problems to inspire others.

Taken to a local drop-in to help her recovery, she went from being a patient to become a volunteer and then an indispensable organiser. Now, she is, among other positions, chair of the executive committee of BAND, the Bolton Association and Network of Drop-ins. And she has found that her selection as the town's Woman of the Year at a charity luncheon at Bolton's Moat House Hotel last year has brought mixed accolades.

As well as all the cards, flowers and good wishes that have flowed her way since then, Margaret has had to accept some good-natured ribbing, especially at local drop-ins.

"There's been plenty of curtseying and bowing and 'Your Majesties'," explained Margaret, laughing. "But it's all meant nicely."

She is very grateful to the Mayor of Bolton's charity committee who organised the Luncheon, and to everyone involved in this enjoyable day. Margaret also passes on her thanks to everyone who nominated her, and to all those who have wished her well.

She has also been asked to speak at a London seminar on dealing with mental health problems, and hopes that her year in "office" will highlight this little-discussed area.

Added Margaret:"I'm happy if it gets the subject out in the open, and helps just one individual. Already, people I've met are saying to me that they never knew that I had been ill, and then they talk about their own experiences, which is a very positive situation."

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.