Margaret Blakeney Way (Giles)

1928 Collegian | Deceased

Margaret Blakeney Way (Giles): front row, left

Margaret Way was always a woman ahead of her time. The only girl among six children whose father died when she was eight, Margaret raced through primary school in four years.

Perhaps this had something to do with her big brother Bob. "He used to come home from school and teach Margaret sums, which she loved," says Bob's daughter and Margaret's niece, Christina Lyall.

Margaret entered MLC as a day scholar in 1921 at the age of 10. Two years later she completed her Junior Certificate and by 15 had done her Leaving Certificate. Too young to attend university, Margaret repeated her final year in 1927.

Margaret went on to study accountancy, specialising in bankruptcy – a valuable skill in the dark days of the depression.

In 1938 she married Robert Way and had three children Robert, John and Andrea.

While raising her family she took part in amateur dramatics through the Pleiades Club and the Perth Repertory Club. She produced prize-winning scripts including The Gentleman from Chile, with music composed by Max Rutter; a great local success. Another of her plays, Two's Afloat, was performed at the Somerville Auditorium in February 1948.

Margaret was president of the Old Girls' Association in 1946 and later became the OGA representative on the College Council.

In 1951 MLC had the opportunity to purchase St Anne's in South Perth, which Margaret's daughter, Andrea, attended, but the purchase could not go ahead without a principal.

As the weeks went by without success Margaret felt someone had to do something.

"You can't leave all these miserable men sitting around a table," she said, "and so I rose to my feet."

Despite having no background in teaching she offered to "hold the fort" at St Anne's until "a proper educationist was found."

Her son, Robert, recalls: "She was thrown in the deep end but she leapt in with gusto, and was soon teaching History and English as well as revitalising and running the school."

The temporary appointment lasted 20 years from 1951 to 1971 and Margaret guided the school, later to be named Penrhos, through its formative years.

"She was a very vital person. She'd tell us funny stories about what was happening and was just incredibly fun. She also had the skill of being very gracious." recalls Margaret's niece Christina.