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Bishop’s Stortford Oxfam volunteers pay tribute to colleague Marley McClinton after her death at 98





A charity shop volunteer described as having a passion for fashion and an infectious love for life has died at the age of 98.

Marley McClinton was working at the Oxfam shop in South Street, Bishop’s Stortford, up until a few months before she died and was much loved by staff and customers alike.

Deputy manager Pam Gurton said Marley, who last year celebrated 21 years at the shop, was famed for her great fashion sense and “always looked so stylish”.

Marley celebrating a birthday at the shop
Marley celebrating a birthday at the shop

“She had a real passion for fashion – anything that had style and panache. She always wore black with a splash of sparkle,” said Pam. Marley was also often seen wearing her trademark beret or a magenta bandana.

Marley moved to Stansted from west London in 2002 and began volunteering at Oxfam, initially at the charity’s shop in North Street before the new branch opened in South Street. Her job was to sort clothes and accessories, and Pam said she used to have fun dressing up in some of the donated items.

“She would try on something like a kimono and then float around the shop looking amazing,” said Pam. “She was so much fun and it was infectious.”

Marley, centre, with fellow volunteers at the Oxfam shop in South Street
Marley, centre, with fellow volunteers at the Oxfam shop in South Street

A celebration of the life of Marley, who died on February 4, was held at the shop on Thursday (Feb 8) , with her fellow volunteers recounting their fond memories of working with her.

Her colleagues knew little of Marley’s previous life. She had a daughter, Christina, and a son, Ashley, and had four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Christina helped fill in some of the details of Marley’s life when she spoke to the Indie on Monday.

Marley was born in Staffordshire on November 19, 1925. Her childhood was spent in north Harrow and Pinner in west London.

She was nearly 14 when the Second World War broke out and Christina retells one story her mum told her of those times.

Marley wearing the magenta bandana for which she was famed
Marley wearing the magenta bandana for which she was famed

“Air raid warnings had gone out and Mum was on her bicycle and was told by a warden to go to the shelter, but she ignored him and was determined to get home,” said Christina.

In the latter stages of the war, Marley worked as a welder in a factory and met her husband-to-be, Garfield McClinton, while he was on leave from the RAF.

The couple had two children, Christina and Ashley, and the family moved to Nottingham. Sadly, the marriage broke up and, after her divorce, Marley moved back to London.

Marley loved to try on any stylish items which came into the shop
Marley loved to try on any stylish items which came into the shop

Among the jobs she had was a driver for Henley’s garage, demonstrating executive cars such as Aston Martins and Jaguars to the rich and famous.

Christina said she felt her mum should have been on the stage and told how a friend had been a singer with a band in the West End and Marley had gone for an audition as a backing singer. She passed the audition, but her father vetoed it, quashing any hopes of stardom.

Marley had a passion for fashion
Marley had a passion for fashion

Her love of cars continued, and up until weeks before her death she was still driving her Mini to and from the shops.

Marley’s friend Jacqui Kinnison, who got her involved in the National Association of Tangent Clubs in Stansted, described her as enigmatic, adding: “I knew Marley for about 10 years and we got on as she was a Scorpio and a bit of a Londoner.”

Marley requested no funeral as she wanted no fuss. Christina said that after cremation her mum’s ashes will be laid where her family is in Cornwall.



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